Mike Malone: Ladies and gentlemen, after a monumental This Means War event, we are back tonight here in our home of Boston, inside the Combat Zone, for Battlelines 39…and we are officially on the road to Live From Toronto! I’m Mike Malone alongside Vincent Ashe, and what a night we have in store for you! HATE will be in action against the unlikely duo of Jester Smiles and Buck Dresden!
Vincent Ashe: You mean the man that Calder and our World Heavyweight Champion, NOTHING, exposed as being a drunken fool?
MM: Will you stop!
VA: Also tonight, we’re going to have one hell of a brawl, as Lou defends her newly won EWA Network Championship against the upstart newcomer, Murphy Doyle Maher!
MM: Right now, though, we’re going to kick things off by taking you backstage to Allison Haines. Allison?
(As the view switches to the back, Allison takes a deep breath–)
Allison Haines: Ladies and gentlemen–
(Allison pauses and closes her eyes before she forces out the words.)
Allison Haines: The Slayer of Sinn and the NEW Viking Queen of Valhalla–Saha–
(The crowd’s jeers resonate backstage, drowning out Allisons introduction of the Crimson Queen. Sahara steps into view, looking up and around as if absorbing the Combat Zones venomous reception…
Dressed in her ring gear, despite not being scheduled to wrestle, her hair is tied back in a number of intricate braids.)
Sahara: Allison…always a pleasure.
Allison Haines: Riiiight.
Sahara: For over a year, I went out there each and every night in face of overwhelming competition–competition I knew would beat me down. But I never gave up, Allison. Calder, Sinclair, Kilminster, you name ‘em, they all tried to put me down, but I kept gettin’ back up again.
We got some guys and girls around here counting their hollow “wins” as some sorta accomplishment … I’m undefeated this, I’m undefeated that. Well, some of us didn’t have an easy road … some of us didn’t get to pad our record by facin’ the likes of Joe Lemon, or Serpent Man — or Lou.
(The blonde lets out a snarky laugh.)
Sahara: I was forced to swim with the sharks before I belonged in side of the tank. People like Duane Gates, Stacy Vandervort, and Sinnocence forged me in the hearth of Valhalla–
(Pulling the mic back, Allison nearly laughs–)
Allison Haines: Forged in the hearth of Valhalla? Do people actually talk like that?
(Sahara cracks a smile.)
Sahara: Of course not. But get this; it ain’t how often you win, it’s WHEN. I may not have a lot of wins on my record, but look at the names on that list. Azrael Goeren. Ray Willmott. Michael Draven. Alexander Haven. Sean Boden. Indrid Calder. Grace Goeren. NOTHING. Josh Kaine–
(Leaning her head back, the Crimson Queen closes her eyes and takes a deep breath before letting out the final name…)
(Ignoring the crowds incessant booing, she turns toward Allison.)
Sahara: And then look at the WHEN. In a year’s time since entering wrestling, I won the Combat Championship not once, but TWICE, and not only that, my name is synonymous with that title. The greatest Combat champion … EVER. And on top of that, I became the EWA World … Heavyweight … Champion. Not bad for a girl that started off with no chance in hell…
Allison Haines: Some might disagree with your methods, but it’s hard to argue with that kind of success and your meteoric rise to the top. Though, some have opined that as of late, you’ve gone beyond simply trying to win, but that you’re actively trying to injure people … to end careers.
Sahara: Do you want me to apologize, Allison?
(Allison merely shrugs, slightly baffled by the question–)
Sahara: Fine. I’m sorry I’m better than everyone else. I’m sorry I want it more than anyone else. And I’m sorry Sinnocence is gone … forever.
(Pausing a moment to let the crowd calm itself, a devious smile forms on the blondes lips.)
Sahara: Lemme describe this to you in detail, Allie–when I came down off those ropes and my fist connected with Jada’s jaw and I heard that crack, when I felt my knuckles sink into her flesh, and watched her head whiplash from the sheer force of the blow–
(Sahara feigns a shiver and wraps her arms around herself, hardly able to contain her excitement.)
Sahara: It sent a chill down my spine, and a tingle through my entire body. I stumbled before I could make the pin. You mighta’ missed it, but if ya go back and look at the tape, you’ll see me pause, you might even see me convulse a little. Do ya know what that was, Allison?
Allison Haines: What?
(Sahara leans in closer.)
(Allison Haines couldn’t help herself; attempting to stifle a laugh, she covers the smile that comes across her face and turns away briefly, attempting to compose herself as quickly as possible. The smile vanishes, replaced by a slight look of disgust.)
Allison Haines: I’m sorry, I’m — I’m just sorry. Did you say org–
(The amused smile at Allison’s reaction never leaves Sahara’s face as she cuts in.)
Sahara: Orgasm?! Yeah. I ain’t kidding, either. It was that fucking extra. The feeling of ecstasy was coursing through my body as I laid back on the limp carcass of Jada Kaine and listened to the refs hand hit the mat–
(Sahara slams the back of her and against her palm for emphasis, three times.)
Sahara: One … two … three!
(The blonde’s voice suddenly grows very earnest.)
Sahara: I thought it couldn’t get better after winning the world title, Allie. Up until that moment, winning that belt was the single greatest night of my life. The best couldn’t get any better. But then I realized something as I lay there on top of Sinn, my body quivvering in climax … there are no single greatest moments. Every new moment is better than the last. Every new person I hurt. Every new career I end. They’re all gonna be sweeter than the last. I felt … so … satiated.
(Sahara looks directly at the camera.)
Sahara: But now I want more. I’m gonna kick down the gates of Valhalla, and I’m gonna let the blood of its warriors flow. And yea, this is wrestling … and we do talk like that. Shout out to my girl down at the Performance Center, Candice…
(Taking one final look at Allison Haines, Sahara storms off, leaving the EWA journalist looking nervous in front of the camera.)
Allison Haines: Malone, Ashe … back to you.
(Back at ringside, Mike Malone heaves a sigh and shakes his head.)
MM: Wow. It’s … insane to think I believe her, Ashe. That she literally got off on inflicting pain on another human being … on Sinnocence. That while a legendary career was dying in that ring, this … this woman was deriving some kind of sick sexual pleasure from it.
VA: Sinn claimed she created a monster … should we act surprised when the monster does what monsters do? I got no love lost for Jada Kaine, Malone. But the fact is, she created Sahara … and in doing so, she destroyed herself.
MM: She needs a psychiatric evaluation if you ask me.
VA: Everyone knows the risks of stepping in that ring. And who the hell is Candice?
(We cut to backstage to see the big black truck belonging to Joshua Kaine pull into the parking lot of the Combat Zone. The engine is turned off and the progeny of Sinnocence steps out, followed shortly by the other members of Cerberus. Nikki Caldwell jumps out first, taking the extended hand from Josh to balance herself. Mojave simply slides out the passenger door, going to put their bags from the back…he’s not booked tonight, but he’s not going to let his compatriots go without some support.)
Mojave: You two ready for this? Nik, you’ve got Lagrima…and do me a favor? Punch the hypocritical bitch right in the tit for me, will you?
(Nikki nods, a grin blossoming over her face, at least until she notices their partner is not so enthused about tonight. Josh has spent far too many nights at the hospital where the legendary Sinnocence is still recovering from her match against Sahara at This Means War.)
Nikki Caldwell: Hey…hey, what’s up with you, Pup? You were all pumped up in the gym yesterday.
(The Heir to Valhalla doesn’t answer right away, at least not until Moe chimes in.)
Mojave: Seriously, s’not like Jada’s gonna die. Just gonna take her a while to get better. So get your damn head back in the game. Preston’s not gonna take it easy on you.
Josh Kaine: He can go get fucked.
(The second-youngest of the trio snaps at his boyfriend, a bit of snarl in his voice.)
Josh Kaine: I can fuckin’ handle him. I got bigger shit to worry about–
Nikki Caldwell: Shit you need to like, actually talk to us about…
Josh Kaine: I’m not ready to talk about it yet, all right? I’ll fuckin’ let you know when I am. I’m gonna go ahead. I can’t do this right now.
(The mohawked-teenager makes his way out of the parking garage and down the hallway to the backstage areas, leaving his teammates and lovers just standing there. Mojave shakes his head. He’s used to playing peacekeeper for his younger, more volatile loves.)
Mojave: Whatever’s wrong, I’m gonna go wring it out of him, alright? You go get ready to face down Lagrima.
Nikki Caldwell: Just smack him once for me. He deserves it for bein’ such an asshole lately.
Mojave: I will, no worries on that.
(He kisses her cheek and hands off her bag, before chasing after the other male member of Cerberus. It isn’t long before he catches up, but he stops just short of the elevators to take the staff up to the main levels. A monstrous Titan stands there, having pinned of the son of Sinnocence against the brick wall, Josh’s face against the cool stone. Mojave immediately looks around for a weapon of some sort. He knows he’ll have a better shot of taking down a monster like Cal Rayner from behind.
It’s when the monster begins to speak that the youngest of the MacKay pauses.)
Cal Rayner: Best you just stop strugglin’, Pup. Only gonna hurt ya if you keep tryin’ to avoid me.
Josh Kaine: You best fukkin’ let me go!
(The Titan of HATE brings his other hand up, effectively silencing the teenager.)
Cal Rayner: I said you was gonna listen whether you like it or not. Now I done told you…your mama ain’t gonna protect you no more. No one’s gonna protect you no more, ‘cept for me. I’m the only one you got left that understands. She told you the truth. Your little dogs can’t help you. Sahara’s gonna burn down that world you love so much and you won’t have nothin’ left.
(He cackles to himself, pressing Josh a little harder against the wall.)
Cal Rayner: I told you, I’m gonna fix up a little dog fight for you. A Dog of mine who knows all the best places to make you hurt and toughen you up. So, Pup…you gonna listen to me or you gonna let my Dog rip out all your teeth and leave you just as broken as your whore-bitch mother?
(The Titan finally eases that pressure, allowing Josh a moment to catch his breath. Mojave can’t make himself move, a mix of curiosity and fear keeping him frozen in place. Rayner doesn’t appear to be hurting him, but those words ring loud and clear.)
Josh Kaine: Fuck you!
(Rayner finally lets him go, the younger man collapsing onto the ground trying to catch his breath.)
Cal Rayner: It’s comin’ whether you like it or not. We’ll turn you into the big dog you was meant to be, or you’ll go limpin’ back home to mama a broken street mutt.
(The monster’s boots are the only sounds echoing down the cinder block hallway as he takes his leave of the weakest member of Cerberus. Mojave approaches then, bending down to help Josh up off of the floor.)
Mojave: You wanna tell me what the fuck that was about?
Josh Kaine: No, I fuckin’ don’t.
Mojave: Fine, until you stop bein’ an asshole to us, you can get yourself to the fuckin’ locker room.
(Moe just lets him go then, picking up his own bag and making his way to the locker room to join Nikki in helping to prep for her match against Lagrima. Fade out.)
JOE LEMON VS KATSURO YOSHIDA
Backstage, Joe Lemon stands near the Gorilla Position, awaiting his introduction so he can head to the ring for the opening match here at Battlelines 39. He’s hopping up and down on his toes, a huge smile on his face. As the camera swings around him, we see that he is being approached by his opponent for tonight, Katsuro Yoshida, and Kevin Oppenheimer. Members of the production crew try to convince Katsuro to just wait, but he moves them aside with his arm, effortlessly and gracefully. He doesn’t even look at their faces as he dismisses them by the wayside.
They stop short. This is not a backstage attack. Kevin Oppenheimer, visibly chewing his gum with large jaw movements, does an obviously fake throat-clearing. That doesn’t get Lemon’s attention, so he does it a second time, which also fails. Looking annoyed, he rolls his eyes and decides to speak up.
Kevin Oppenheimer: Oi, Lemonhead!
Slightly startled, Joe Lemon turns around to find himself four feet from the World Wide Bushido Buntai, Katsuro Yoshida staring blankly through him. Oppenheimer matches the goofy smile that’s on Lemon’s face, and both of them revert to a more serious state.
Kevin Oppenheimer: What you have here is an opportunity. But through the grace of Katsuro Yoshida, you can avoid a trip to the hospital tonight. All you have to be doing is taking to that ring, WITHOUT your silly entrance and theme song, no pomp and circumstances, savvy? And when you get there, simply ask the announcer TART for a microphone, and then tell the world that your affiliation with Philip Donovan was a mistake, and that you would much rather be a part of the World Wide Bushido Buntai.
Taken aback, Lemon looks a bit angered.
Joe Lemon: First of all, I’m not joining the World Wide…
Immediately, Oppenheimer’s hand goes up and he interrupts.
Kevin Oppenheimer: Sweeth’art, you would never… EVER… be invited to join the PREMIERE global wrestling commonwealth organization. I mean, that hat alone disqualifies you from even cleaning our bathrooms.
Removing his signature hat, Joe Lemon looks proudly at it.
Joe Lemon: That’s great, because your organization AND your bathrooms have two major things in common, both being full of poop and regularly getting peed on!
The live crowd, just a couple dozen yards away through the curtain, watching this scene unfold through the video being shared with them, hears the comment and gives an audible “OOOHH!!!”, which Lemon smiles about. Kevin Oppenheimer nearly springs into action in defense of Lemon besmirching his organization, but Katsuro Yoshida puts his arm in the way and holds him back.
Katsuro Yoshida: So am I to presume you decline the opportunity to forfeit this match, knowing that it is likely to result in hospitalization?
Joe Lemon: Uh… DUH! Of course I “decline to forfeit”.
Katsuro Yoshida: Very well, then.
Putting his hand to his own throat, Katsuro leans in towards Joe Lemon, and out from his mouth sprays a fine black mist, immediately getting into Lemon’s eyes and nose. He tries to cover up, but the damage is done. He stumbles back a step, and as he tries to see, he finds himself blinded. Katsuro Yoshida grabs him by the back collar of his shirt, moves forward and throws him through the curtain.
The view switches, and we’re now inside the arena bowl, the crowd watching on as Joe Lemon struggles to get to his feet. Katsuro Yoshida and Kevin Oppenheimer follow through the curtain shortly thereafter. Yoshida drives a forearm into the back of Lemon’s head, sending him tumbling down. Kevin Oppenheimer scurries in and lays into him with a few boots to the back.
MM: Well our opening match here tonight is scheduled to be Katsuro Yoshida against Joe Lemon…
VA: Then this is perfect, cut out all the nonsense from Joe Lemon’s entrance, get the guys down here, and let Katsuro Yoshida continue to show what he’s capable of doing!
MM: Come on, now, we all saw what happened backstage, how is Joe Lemon supposed to wrestle with that black mist all in his eyes?!
VA: That would be HIS problem!
MM: No need to deny it, we all saw Katsuro Yoshida spit that mist into his face! He should be disqualified!
VA: For what?! Something that happened BEFORE the match?!
At this point, Katsuro Yoshida has picked Joe Lemon up and thrown him into the ring under the bottom rope. The referee moves in to check his status, while Katsuro gets into the ring amidst a chorus of booing from the crowd. He measures Lemon up, then rushes in with a Yakuza kick to the face that flattens him. The opening bell sounds, which triggers the referee to move over to talk to the ring attendant, as he never called for the opening bell. With the referee distracted, Katsuro Yoshida grabs the fallen Lemon by the ankles, lifts his legs and spreads them, then drops in with a headbutt to the groin. Immediately Lemon covers up, but the referee didn’t see it.
MM: Adding injury to insult… I’m not sure I liked the approach Katsuro Yoshida took in the past few months, with the things he said about American fans and such, but I certainly don’t condone these actions NOR what he did to Philip Donovan at This Means War!
VA: You heard him, Katsuro offered Joe Lemon the chance to avoid all of this!
Joe Lemon writhing in pain on the mat, he rolls over close to the ropes, and Kevin Oppenheimer walks over and starts laughing in Joe’s face, asking him where his “towel” is, a reference to how Joe Lemon threw in the towel for Philip Donovan back at This Means War. The fans behind Oppenheimer get his attention and he starts yelling at them as well. Katsuro then helps Joe Lemon to his feet and kicks him a few times before sending him across the ring with an irish whip. Unable to defend himself due to blindness, he doesn’t even have warning when Yoshida fires in with a backwards thrust kick, catching Joe in the gut and sending him down to the mat, looking like he might vomit.
Yoshida follows it up with some kicks to the ribs, knee strikes, and then a modified Fujiwara armbar that he releases once the referee checks to see if Joe Lemon is going to submit. Katsuro gets Joe off the mat and puts him into a Tree Of Woe position and then turns him sideways so that his head and one shoulder are hooked over the middle rope, twisted to expose his back. Yoshida lays into him with a couple stiff kicks, and then the referee backs him up, as Lemon is technically in the ropes. Katsuro uses the few feet of space the referee gave him and then rushes in and hits a rising knee-lift that connects to the back and shoulder area of Lemon, causing him to be jostled enough that his feet come unhooked and he falls between the ropes and to the outside.
MM: Such brutal, brutal shots there by Katsuro Yoshida, and the referee should end this already.
VA: He can end it when there’s reason to end it.
MM: How about the fact that Joe Lemon can’t see?! That should be reason enough for this match to have never officially started in the first place!
Kevin Oppenheimer grabs Joe Lemon and slides him into the ring under the bottom rope, the referee stopping his admonishing Katsuro for the knee-lift and now admonishing Kevin Oppenheimer, who puts his hands up to show he didn’t attack Joe Lemon at all while he was outside the ring. He even yells something about being “a good lumberjack”. Katsuro gets into a kneeling position above the face-down Lemon, hooks both his arms behind his back, plants his forehead on the mat and flips his body forward into the cattle mutilation style submission hold. The referee moves in and immediately hears the submitting cries of Joe Lemon and calls for the bell.
NR: Here is your winner via submission… Katsurooooooo Yoshiiiiiiiida!!!!
MM: I hope he’s proud of himself.
VA: It’s a victory, right? Why NOT be proud?
MM: I realize that Joe Lemon doesn’t get many victories, and Yoshida didn’t have to do all of this to be competitive against him.
Kevin Oppenheimer joins Katsuro Yoshida in the ring and pats him on the back, looking proud. As Oppy tries to escort him out of the ring, Katsuro stops, says something to Kevin, whose face loses a bit of its joy, and he nods, and then Yoshida goes over and kicks Joe Lemon once more in the ribs, then SPITS down on his opponent before walking off with Oppenheimer, neither man looking jovial at this point.
MM: Oh, now come on, that’s plain disrespectful! He didn’t have to do that! That’s vile!
VA: You know what? He won the match, he can treat Joe Lemon however he wants. If Joe doesn’t like it? Let him ask for a rematch. Let him complain about it.
MM: He’s well capable of doing what he wants with a fallen opponent, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it! This isn’t what we saw from Yoshida the past few months… and I have to wonder if the visit from Osamu Hayashi just before This Means War made the difference.
VA: The difference? Katsuro Yoshida is on a WINNING STREAK since Osamu Hayashi paid them a visit, and THAT is the IMPORTANT difference!
YOUR WINNER BY SUBMISSION: KATSURO YOSHIDA (4:09)
MM: Folks, right now we’d like to take you to an interview conducted earlier today with our own Terry Bull…and the EWA World Heavyweight Champion. Roll the footage.
(We fade into a lavish studio located in EWA Headquarters. In an exquisite leather chair sits a very finely dressed Terry Bull, wearing a dark suit with the accent of a blistering red tie. The close-up shot of Bull holds for a moment as the words “Previously Recorded” fade in toward the bottom of the screen.)
Terry Bull: Ladies and gentlemen, it is my distinct pleasure to welcome my guest at this time – the EWA World Heavyweight Champion… “The Purveyor of HATE”… NOTHING.
(The shot zooms out and we see, sitting to Bull’s left in a matching chair is the EWA World Heavyweight Champion, NOTHING. He wears a pair of dark gray chinos and a dark blue shirt with sleeves rolled up to the elbows, a brown belt and brown pair of shoes accenting the outfit. Across his lap sits the prize yearned for by every member of the EWA roster – the EWA World Heavyweight Championship. One hand rests atop the belt while the other hand rests along the arm of the chair. The Champion nods toward Terry at his introduction.)
NOTHING: Pleasure, Terry.
Terry Bull: After decades in the business, you returned to the EWA and just over two months ago you finally captured the EWA World Heavyweight Championship. And, more recently, you defeated Martin Robertson in your first title defense. How does it feel, in this moment, with your recent successes?
NOTHING: How does it feel? With your little lead-in, that’s the best you can come up with?
Terry Bull: Well, it’s just a starte–
NOTHING: It’s fine, Terry. I’m used to it at this point. First, let’s examine the facts. On the date that this interview airs, I will have held this title for sixty-four days. That’s already a longer reign than the previous three EWA World Heavyweight Champions. You’ve got to go back to Alexander Haven to find the most recent former champion who has held this championship longer, and… no disrespect to my brother-in-law… but I’m going to leave that far, far in my rear view mirror.
What we have here, Terry, is a complete shift in ideology in regards to the EWA World Heavyweight Championship. That shift, my friend, is happening with HATE at the head of the pack.
Terry Bull: You certainly raise some interesting points, I’ll give you that. You brought up the history of the EWA World Heavyweight TItle a bit, but let’s talk about your own history. You have a storied rivalry with Grady Smith – a rivalry that still rears its head in current-day EWA.
NOTHING: And yes, of course – you want to know what it feels like to vanquish the son of one of my greatest rivals, correct? What’s it like to carry on a feud that was ignited in the year 2000 when Grady Smith defeated me for the NYSWF World Heavyweight Title?
Well let me lay some history on you, Terry. I won my first NYSWF World TItle on November 20, 1999. Grady Smith defeated me for that very title on January 23, 2000. Can you do the math there, Terry? Sixty-four days.
I’m now here with my first EWA World Heavyweight Title and I’ve already left the Smith family legacy in a pathetic heap at my feet, sixty-four days and growing.
(NOTHING, seemingly agitated, leans forward toward Terry who leans back as far as he can in his chair. Terry’s eyes remain focused on NOTHING who looks like his gaze could burn a hole through steel. The Champion grasps his prize, the EWA World Heavyweight TItle, as his voice grows more serious and his words are delivered with each one more pointed than the one before it.)
NOTHING: The days of a Smith or a Robertson or whatever they want to call themselves are behind me, and they have been for quite some time. That’s why you see, in that family’s eyes, the jealousy and agony constantly on the brink of boiling over. What other reason would Grady Smith have had to involve himself in The Asylum and steal from me the opportunity to win this title on the night Sahara would become Champion?
They see who I was, Terry, but their minds are too narrow and their eyes too shielded to see who I have become and who I am yet to be. They want to rely on the past and their preconceived notions of who I was and how this business used to work. Used to be, the son of a legend walks in the door and is immediately sky-rocketed to the top of the business. He holds title after title and nestles himself into the throne looking down upon the rest of the peasants.
That’s simply not going to cut it anymore, my friend. Nobody in this business is handed anything, least of all myself. I have scraped and clawed my way to the very top of this business once again, and I did it without leaning on who my father is, or who my brother is, or who anybody else in my family happens to be. I am the EWA World Heavyweight Champion, and that accolade is going to stick for as long as I go on enjoying the way it sounds preceding my name.
(NOTHING slowly sits back in his chair, twisting his neck from side to side and taking a deep breath in. Terry, to his credit, remained calm and collected and now lets out a breath was likely holding in that entire time. He loosens himself up and leans into a more comfortable position before continuing.)
Terry Bull: Well, uhm… I want to… I’d like to go back to something you said earlier on. You referred to a “shift in ideology” with the EWA World Heavyweight Title. Could you elaborate on what you mean by that?
NOTHING: What I mean, Terry, is that this company and the most important prize in this company has been ridiculously muddled for as long as I can remember. I remember a time in this business when fighting for the World Title in a company meant you were fighting for the World Title.
But that’s not what I’ve seen around here for months. I’ve seen marriages implode and friendships fall apart in front of the eyes of the EWA fans. Week after week, either at an EWA event or on Combat TV, we see these pathetic souls trudge onward as they do irrevocable harm to themselves and the ones they claim to love. Let’s just look at who has held this title recently, shall we?
I, of course, defeated Sahara for this prize. Sahara, on her own, is certainly a deserving champion. Someone who has built herself up from being seen as a joke in this company to one of the most dominant Warriors to step into the ring. And who did Sahara beat? A subhuman grunt known as Michael Draven who just couldn’t get over the fact that his own wife was going to challenge him for the EWA World Heavyweight Title.
Who was it that Draven beat for this title? Well, that’d be Alexander Haven at the end of the Warriors Trial. What was the real story there, though? It was Michael Draven’s life-long quest to finally, somehow defeat Alexander Haven in a wrestling match. Well, good on ya, Mikey – ya did it.
Before that we’ve got Chris Kage defeating Alexander Haven with the backdrop of that one being the dissolution of their friendship and the fiery, traumatic end of one of the most dominant stables this business has ever seen, The Youth. What would happen when the two former best friends finally went head to head? Would either of them survive, personally or professionally?
Or how about we go back just one more reign, Terry, and the night when Alexander Haven ordered Grady Smith to defend the championship against him right there, right then in London, England. Grady had just defeated Ray Willmott, to the old man’s credit, and was thrown immediately into a bout with Haven. And why? What was Haven’s driving force? It was all about humiliating Grady Smith and exerting his political power over the old dog.
Now, you tell me, Terry – what’s the running theme in all of this?
(Terry pauses for a second and brings his hand up to his chin, his index finger extended and tapping on his pursed lips. He thinks for a moment before placing his hand back in his lap and looking toward NOTHING.)
Terry Bull: Well, to be quite honest… I’m not exactly sure.
NOTHING: I guess I shouldn’t be too terribly surprised that a crack reporter such as yourself can’t connect the simplest of dots.
The running theme with the EWA World Heavyweight Championship has been… everything but the EWA World Heavyweight Champion. These men and women, they haven’t been fighting for the chance to become EWA Champion. That’s all been secondary, Terry. It’s been personal relationships – marriages, friendships, political power, pathetic bouts of resentment and spite… all the while, the EWA World Heavyweight Championship taking a backseat to the sad display.
I can’t recall the last time I saw two competitors fight for the honor of being called Champion instead of just sort of… fighting around it. So, that shift in ideology I talked about earlier, Terry? It’s about burying all of that nonsense six feet in the ground, packing the soil on top of it, and moving forward.
Martin Robertson whined and cried his way to an EWA World Heavyweight Title shot and predictably ran back to daddy to try and get some sort of advantage on the old man’s old rival. Well, it didn’t work. It didn’t work because Martin wasn’t focused on what he should have been focused on – instead of wanting to prove to himself that he could become the EWA Champion, he needed to prove it to his father… to his mother… to his uncles… to everybody else other than himself.
Martin Robertson is out of my sightline, and the only way he’s going to find himself back in it again is if he earns a shot at this title. I won’t be goaded into defending this championship because someone has insulted my family, or because they’ve turned their back on me in a time of need, or because of any other inconsequential reasoning that could be levied toward me.
(NOTHING stands up causing Terry to flinch backward with a sense of well-earned fear. The Champion pays him no mind and, instead, looks directly into the camera which focuses in on him. He holds the EWA World Title up next to himself, the look in his eyes carrying more determination than has been seen in quite some time from The Purveyor.)
NOTHING: From this day forward, when the EWA World Heavyweight Championship it’s going to be about the EWA World Heavyweight Championship. I’m going to take this title, drag it out of the muck and mire where it has been languishing and raise it back up onto the pedestal where it should have always set.
And that brings me to my next step. Right here, consider the gates open to the members of the EWA roster in regards to challenging for the EWA World Heavyweight Championship. Maybe we’ve had a few run-ins in the past… maybe we’ve nearly killed each other in this company or another… and maybe we’ve never so much as said hello to one another. If any Warrior on the EWA roster wants a shot at this title, all they have to do is ask. If I feel they’ve earned that chance… then we’ll step into the ring, put this championship on the line, and bring prestige back to the EWA World Heavyweight Title.
(NOTHING rolls his neck again before turning and walking off of the set. The camera pans back out to see a bewildered Terry Bull sitting next to a now empty chair. He shakes his head slightly to regain his composure before looking into the camera.)
Terry Bull: A shocking statement from the EWA World Heavyweight Champion – an open challenge issued to the entire EWA roster from the World Champion himself! Folks, you can be sure we’ll be keeping a close eye on this one in the weeks to come. Vincent, Mike – take it away!
DANE PRESTON VS JOSH KAINE
VA: Hey, Malone, what do a carrot and Sinnocence have in common?
MM: I don’t think I want to hear this jo-
VA: They are both vegetables! Get it! Cuz…cuz Sinnocence is stuck in a hospital room!?
MM: First off, that is a terrible way to segway into Josh Kaine vs Dane Preston, just because Josh is Jada’s son. Second, she’s not in a vegetative state. Her injuries are severe and she has spent a lot of time in the hospital since This Means War, but she is not vegetative.
VA: You know, Malone, jokes aren’t funny if you explain them.
MM: The joke wasn’t funny to begin with…
NR: Ladies and gentlemen, the following contest is scheduled for ONE FALL!
Suddenly the lights go out plunging the arena into darkness, when red and white strobe lights and lasers begin to spin and flash all around the inner walls of the jam-packed arena. A thick white fog bellows out from beneath the entrance stage as the opening riff to Birdy Wing’s ‘Kashmir’ hits the arena sound system.
OH LET THE SUN BEAT DOWN UPON MY FACE
AND STARS FILL MY DREAM
I’M A TRAVELER OF BOTH TIME AND SPACE
TO BE WHERE I HAVE BEEN
A blaring white light appears from the entrance screen, to reveal the silhouette of Dane Preston banging his head to the beat of the music. A light mist begins to come down on the crowd, while Preston’s demeanor from this distance is enough to give chills to anyone standing at ringside.
NR: Introducing first, hailing from Redwood City, California! He weighs in tonight at TWO HUNDRED and FORTY FIVE pounds and is one half of FYA…DANE…PRESTON!
TO SIT WITH ELDERS OF THE GENTLE RACE
THIS WORLD HAS SELDOM SEEN
THEY TALK OF DAYS FOR WHICH THEY SIT AND WAIT
ALL WILL BE REVEALED
Preston stands there with his head hung low as the music picks up, before snapping his neck from side to side. As the lights come back on, Preston begins to stalk his way down the entrance ramp, pounding his chest to psych himself out for his match.
MM: Preston seemed REAL confident coming into this match, so much so that he had no problems making light of Jada Kaine’s situation. His confidence is commendable, but I find his humor to be a bit…heartless.
VA: Personally, I’m starting to like the guy, Malone. You gotta love a guy who knows how good he is. Why should someone way above the caliber of Josh Kaine treat Josh Kaine as an equal? Why should he do anything other than berate Josh Kaine and his family?
TALK IN SONG FROM TONGUES OF LILTING GRACE
SOUNDS CARESS MY EAR
AND NOT A WORD I HEARD COULD I RELATE
THE STORY WAS QUITE CLEAR
Sliding into the ring on his stomach, Preston quickly gets to his feet and walks to a corner with a purpose. Shrugging off his leather vest and handing it to the ring attendant, Preston turns his attention to the ramp.
Aaah! Aaah! Aaah! Aaah!
The raspy and electric voice of Alice in Chains’ Layne Staley and those distinctive guitar riffs from “Them Bones” suddenly starts over the speakers of the arena, igniting a pop from the crowd. The heir to Valhalla himself appears from backstage, but his trademark grin is nowhere to be seen. He glares at the ring. Dane Preston winks at Josh Kaine, smiling arrogantly. Josh Kaine is infuriated at this gesture and he charges the ring. Josh slides in the ring, and Dane tries to catch him with a clothesline early, but Josh ducks under, hits the ropes, and SLAMS Dane down with a spear! He then begins to pummel Dane with fists for a moment before Cardillo pulls him off!
MM: Maybe that’s why he should have given some respect to Josh and what his family is going through. After all, it seems that arrogance is getting his face caved in!
Cardillo signals for the bell, and Josh again flies at Preston. Preston is more ready, the the two men begin to trade blows. Preston gets the advantage quickly, being the larger of the two men, and beats Kaine into a position of advantage, using this opportunity to toss the smaller man across the ring with an overhead belly to belly suplex! Josh hits, but he pops up fast and charges, striking Dane again! Again, though, Dane is able to weather the fury and get the advantage, this time slamming Josh down with a hard spinebuster! Dane takes this opportunity to float over with a pin!
KICKOUT! Preston pounds Kaine with a couple of hard forearm shots, which Cardillo warns him about, but Preston ignores and pins again!
KICKOUT! Preston, despite not being able to keep Josh down for long, seems very pleased with himself. He picks up Kaine and whips him to the turnbuckle, charging closely behind and slamming Josh with a running knee! The original fury of Josh Kaine seems to be gone now, and he looks hurt.
VA: What were you saying, Malone? Because, right now, I see a PUP who got a lucky sucker punch in and is now being dominated by a superior athlete.
Preston backs up, still grinning. He plants a few playful jabs on Josh Kaine before grabbing his arm and arm dragging him to the center of the ring. He walks over casually to the downed Josh Kaine and throws a leg kick, hitting Kaine hard in the leg with a loud popping sound! Preston throws another leg kick, again a loud pop resounding. He then grabs the leg of Josh Kaine and steps over, twisting on Kaine’s ankle! Josh grimaces in pain while Preston seems completely calm, twisting on the leg as if he were doing some mundane house chore. However, Josh suddenly gets his foot off and pushes on Preston’s back, getting Preston to releases the hold. Josh kips up, but he is immediately taken down with a clothesline!
MM: Much as I hate agreeing with you, we are seeing a dominant performance by Dane Preston here.
VA: Credit where credit is due, I suppose, Kaine did come out with a lot of fire, but the clearly superior wrestler is now in complete control.
The next few minutes of the match sees the same theme as the beginning of the match. Preston uses his size advantage to weaken Josh with strikes before dropping him with a big attack. Preston will go on to do a lot of body holds and choke holds, doing his best to take the wind out of Josh. There is a moment where Josh looks to take control after a nice, sudden enziguri, but for the most part, Preston stays dominant.
MM: We are at the seven minute mark, and Kaine is still taking a real beating here.
Preston has Kaine up. Kaine comes to life, throwing a wild right hand, but Preston ducks under and gets behind Kaine. He lifts Kaine up and throws him back, hitting a german suplex! He gets up, keeping back control of Kaine, and hits another german suplex! He once again lifts Kaine up and goes for another german suplex, but Kaine gets his legs up and blocks! Kaine runs forward with Dane still holding him, and hits the ropes. This causes both men to spring back. Preston falls back, but Kaine rolls forward, grabs Preston’s legs, and legs drops onto them, putting Preston in a pinning predicament!
THR-Dane is up! Josh, feeling an opportunity, comes to life! He hits the ropes and slams Dane with a front dropkick! Dane goes down, but he is up quickly! However, Josh is feeling the momentum shift, and he takes Dane down with spinning wheelkick! Dane is up quick again, but slower this time. Josh plants a kick to Dane’s stomach and grabs him in a front facelock. He hits the ropes, looking for a tornado DDT, but Preston pushes Josh away! Josh tries for another dropkick, but Preston moves and Josh eats the canvas! Dane’s arrogant grin is finally gone. He looks irritated. Preston stomps on Josh, who clutches the ropes to break the attack, but Dane keeps on! Cardillo tells Preston to stop, but he keeps going! Cardillo begins his count!
FI-Preston stops at the very last second. Josh still clutches the ropes while Juan Cardillo admonishes Dane Preston. Dane finally gets tired of the referee and moves in for Josh. He lifts Josh up, but Josh comes alive! He fires a forearm shot at Preston! Another! Another! Josh hits him twice more, and the fifth shot backs Preston up! Josh grabs the top rope and leaps up, springboarding off with a moonsault!
But Preston catches him! Dane Preston runs forward and DROPS Josh with a running powerslam! Preston pins!
NO! Josh kicks out at the last of last seconds!
MM: Josh Kaine is showing a lot of fight here! Even though Dane Preston has had the advantage this whole time, Josh keeps coming out of nowhere and keeps this match going!
VA: Pointless, if you ask me. He’s holding out for an opening that is not going to come. If he keeps this up, he might end up a vegetable like his mommy.
MM: For the last time, she isn’t in a vegetat-
VA: I’M WELL AWARE WHAT STATE SHE IS IN, MALONE!
Dane Preston looks frustrated, clearly upset. He curses at Josh as he lifts him to his feet. Josh stands, wobbly. Josh throws a couple of wild punches, but Preston swats them away easy. Preston comes to life, hitting a fast combo of punches and follows it up with a toe kick. He gets in his own DDT position and looks to drop Kaine!
VA: Royal Dream Sequence! Here we go!
As Preston drops for the DDT, Kaine suddenly flips forward, causing him to cartwheel out of the facelock and onto his feet! Kaine lands awkwardly though, and he wobbles, giving Preston time to scramble and come at him! Preston throws a forearm shot, causing Kaine to go loopy! Preston grabs Kaine and Irish Whips him-Blocked! Kaine stops and pulls Preston forward, leaping in the air…
MM: Fenrir’s Bite! Kaine has Preston in the middle of the ring with his variation of a flying armbar!
Preston’s eyes go wide as he feels pain shoot up his arm. He tries to struggle, but the suddenness of the move has him down on his knees in the center of the ring. He looks around, trying to find a way to break the hold, but Josh has it cinched tight, and pretty soon, Preston realizes he has to tap! Juan Cardillo calls for the bell as Kaine releases the hold!
MM: That was…that was an impressive finish!
NR: Ladies and gentlemen, your winner, at a time of THIRTEEN minutes and FORTY-FIVE seconds…JOSH…KAINE!
Dane Preston rolls out of the ring, looking angry and shocked. He rolls his arm and massages it, glaring up at Josh Kaine. Josh Kaine locks eyes with Preston as Cardillo holds his hand up. He spits on the ground a bit, showing his disdain for Preston. Dane gives Josh no satisfaction of a response and simply heads to the back, still loosening up his arm. Josh glares at the top of the entrance ramp where Preston went, holding his arms high in victory at the crowd cheers his efforts.
YOUR WINNER: JOSH KAINE (13:45)
(Intrepid EWA backstage reporter Terry Bull rounds a corner with trademark microphone in hand, and he finds the man he’s looking for sitting with his hands dangling between his knees, spine arched and back pressed up against a pitted concrete wall.
A heating duct is close to his seated position, and the warmth from the bowels of the arena washes over Indrid Calder, causing the shroud that hangs low across his head to billow in a blistering breeze.
Terry crouches down next to the Grey Man of the EWA, and he reluctantly lifts his microphone up to his own mouth.)
Terry Bull: Indrid, I was hoping to get your thoughts on the result of your match at This Means War. You suffered a loss to Michael Draven…can you describe your mindset right now?
(Calder doesn’t speak for a long moment, his long fingers weaving slowly in front of him, tapping out strange melodies across sharp kneecaps.)
Indrid Calder: Are you expecting excuses, Mister Bull? I could think of a thousand bogus justifications to gloss over that loss, but that is not my way. If my name was Grace Goeren or Martin Robertson then I might whine about unfairness and outside circumstances coming into play, but I am not spineless like them. I can admit when I am beaten. I can begrudgingly tell you and the EWA faithful right now…that Michael Draven got the big win over me at This Means War. He was better that night.
(Calder grits his teeth, almost like it’s physically painful for him to speak those words.)
Indrid Calder: I think that dispels the myth that The Vengeful One cannot obtain victory when it truly counts, because he did. He made the most of his obsessive anger. He pinned my shoulders to the canvas for a count of three on a grand stage, and the whole world cheered for him. And how does Mister Draven react to his triumph?
(Calder pauses, nostrils flaring ever so slightly.)
Indrid Calder: He plasters his face all over the EWA Network, and he boasts, and he preens, and he names me Indrid Calder the Failure. A sore winner, Mister Bull…but that is Draven’s way. He is a shortsighted man. He’s always been impulsive, and his victories will always be ephemeral, because he manages to tarnish them himself without me having to lift a finger. He has this idea in his head that because he won a single battle against his foe—albeit a hard fought battle—that all his problems just dissipate now. His life transforms into instantaneous sunshine and rainbows. The hero stands tall, and the curtains close. But while Draven deals in momentary success, I play the long game…
(The ghost of a smile touches Calder’s lips.)
Indrid Calder: The long game takes finesse. A subtle hand, and meticulous planning to see it through. Because while Draven is impulsive, I am patient. I pluck the fibers of a silken web that he doesn’t even realize is wrapping firmly around him even now. He can buzz and buzz all he wants about his win, but at the end of the day, I’ll always be the spider, and he’ll always be the fly…
(Calder rises up to his feet, pushing himself vertical along the pitted wall.)
Indrid Calder: And the spider ALWAYS eats in the end, Mister Bull. You’d best remember that. Don’t count this magician out. I’ve got one last trick up my sleeve…
(Calder starts to walk off, his whisper drifting back to wash over Terry Bull.)
Indrid Calder: …and I always save the best for last.
(Fade to ringside.)
SERPENT MAN VS V
Harsh, cold white lights glare into the darkness of the arena. The thick, sluggish guitar lines of Neil Young’s “Hey Hey, My My (Into The Black)” churns itself out, as black and white depictions of atrocities smash-cut into each other on the big screen. A man’s form steps out on the stage, clad in long tights and wrestling boots, a leather jacket with a canvas hood hiding his head.
The King is gone, but he’s not forgotten
Is this the story of Johnny Rotten?
It’s better to burn out, ’cause rust never sleeps–
But overtaking that guitar is another– Mister Young’s song screeches to a halt as the deep riffs of “Phantom Limb” by Alice in Chains take its place. The screen washes black as the lights warm slightly to a platinum hue. The hood drops back, a rough hewn face can be seen looking out at the crowd. And a minority of that audience answers back, screaming recognition.
MM: This newest signing, I’ve heard talk that he’s done big things overseas, Japan, Mexico, even in the States, just never on our stage. Guess some of the people here have seen it.
VA: Which means it all amounts to nothing, Malone. You got a clean slate in EWA, no reason to even bring that stuff up.
MM: Well it’s true enough– you’ve got to start at the bottom and earn your way up here– but nothing’s a bit of a harsh statement. Having that experience hones you as a wrestler, that part doesn’t vanish when you sign a contract.
VA: They call him V? And I thought the single-name monikers were bad with the egotism, now we’re down to a letter.
MM: Could say that about Sahara.
VA: How dare you even mention that angel when this mess is out here taking up our time. We need Sahara on more of the show, you know. She’s ratings.
The newly debuted wrestler steps in the ring where Serpent Man stands ready.
Not that it’s ready enough.
The match that unfurls before us is not so much a sporting event as it is a demonstration on how to thoroughly beat the dust out of an old rug, with Serpent Man playing the role of the oversized faux-oriental that your auntie picked up at Home Depot back in the 1990s. The scarred veteran at the center of this routine basically goes to work attempting to manufacture cubic zirconium with his fists on the skull of Serpent Man, all the while the referee comes to terms with the fact that no one cares about how closed fists aren’t supposed to be a thing in wrestling. After Serpent Man goes fetal and V spends a good five minutes of this anaerobic assault punching him in the back of the head– by which time Serpent Man’s family must’ve been getting on Amazon to order adult diapers and flashcards so he could relearn all of their names– V stands up and hauls the poor man up to shoulder height, then dropping him on that same head.
The pin, when it at last comes, feels like relief. It’s done now. At last, it’s over.
“Phantom Limb” erupts from the speakers for a short moment… before being cut off by Marilyn Manson’s version of “God’s Gonna Cut You Down”. At the top of the stage, a pink-haired woman appears, clad in funeral black.
The man who’d been grade-A tough until now? Looks like he just saw his own pallbearers walk out on the stage with a custom fit casket. Despite it, he’s shouting at her, telling her to bring her ass down to the ring. But she doesn’t budge, her cold stare doesn’t break. And in this staredown, the cameras look away first, as we fade backstage.
YOUR WINNER BY PINFALL: V (5:29)
(We cut backstage to see one of the EWA’s newest rising Warrior’s Sterling stalking down a hallway to the closest locker room to prep for his match against PHD. He readjusts the bag slung over his shoulder before checking out the numbers on the doors.)
(A few more doors are passed.)
(His eyes light up when finally…finally!…he comes to the right door.)
Sterling: 222. Bout damn time.
(He opens the door to reveal the room already occupied, clearly…as gear bags have been thrown over the nearest benches and the clear sound of a shower running in the back can be heard.
A voice from inside the room finally catches his attention. It’s none other than the youngest brother of former EWA World Champion Sahara and former EWA Tag Team Champion…Mojave!)
(The eldest member of Cerberus raises an eyebrow, frowning to the taller man.)
Mojave: You do realize you gotta knock first, right?
Sterling: The fuck are you doing in my locker room?
Mojave: This room is for Cerberus. Not pasty English assholes, move the fuck along.
(The door is then closed in Sterling’s face and the audible clicking of a lock is heard, leaving the English fighter with brows furrowed in confusion and frustration.
Smiling in amused disbelief, Sterling shakes his head and takes a step back from the door.)
Sterling: Oh, so THAT’s how it is around here… OK… OK…
(In a swift move, his booted foot collides with the door, the curvature of his instep perfectly arced around the lock and cracking the wood with a loud splintering and flinging the door wide open. Smirking, he drops his head and carries on his way along the corridor.
As he leaves, he hears Mojave yelling down the hall.)
Mojave: WHAT THE FUCK?!?!
(Fade to ringside.)
LAGRIMA VS NIKKI CALDWELL
Nikki Rogers: The following contest has been scheduled for one fall–
Once again, the crowd responds in kind with a “One Fall” of their own.
VA: Yeah, that won’t start to get annoying.
MM: Leave the fans alone, Vincent, it’s all part of the fun.
NR: Introducing first, from Los Angeles, California, representing Cerberus, Nikki Caldwell!
A scream followed by machine-gun percussion as Skylar Grey’s “Wreak Havoc” shocks the arena and gold pyro erupts from the stage. The fans rise to their feet in excitement as Nikki Caldwell walks onto the stage under a burst of green and red lights.
I CAN SMELL YOUR FEAR, THE ONLY REASON THAT I’M HERE
IS TO WREAK HAVOC
EVERYBODY PRAYIN’ THAT I’LL CHANGE, YEAH
MAYBE ONE DAY, BUT TOMORROW I’LL BE BACK AT IT
Her face is streaked with black warpaint, the large scale-armor of Sinnocence’s heirloom black-and-red Doom Jacket juts from her shoulders. She pauses at the top of the ramp with her feet braced and her arms slightly spread at her sides, eyes flickering over the crowd before her gazes focuses intensely on the ring.
‘CAUSE BAD HABITS, THEY DIE HARD
WE LIVE FAST, WE DIE HARD
GO AGAINST ME, YOU’LL DIE HARD
Nikki suddenly runs down to the ring and three quarters of the way around it, sliding beneath the bottom rope and rolling up to her feet in one smooth motion. She steps up on the bottom and center ropes, raising one fist and yelling out a warcry. The fans answer her back with a cheer of their own, and after letting them have their due, she steps down and sheds her jacket to prepare for the fight.
MM: This young lady has been making quite a name for herself as of late.
VA: Ahh yes, the girl with warm golden sand between her legs…fantastic portraits. They make for great phone wallpapers, or so I’ve been told.
MM: I’m just–warm golden sand?!
VA: Yeah. Sand. Sahara. As in the back of Sahara’s head? Cuz she has blonde ha–
MM: Just…stop. It’s pretty clear what you’re talking about, and it’s disrespectful to all this young woman has accomplished…
NR: And her opponent, from New Orleans, Louisiana, representing the team of The Erinyes and current EWA World Tag-Team champion, Lágrima!
As Nikki’s music fades, a purple spotlight in the shape of a horned skull suddenly drops onto the entrance ramp where the masked figure of Lágrima already stands, back to the ring, head in her hands. The opening chords of Melanie Martinez’s “Pity Party” begins to play as Lágrima turns to look over her shoulder, the tear-streaked mask staring toward the ring. She moves almost robotic, her torso shuddering with sobs as she turns around, putting her arms out in a cross pose, before slowly walking to the ring, slowly swaying back and forth.
As she reaches the ring, she slides in, luridly crawling across the canvas on her belly, looking at the hard cam, putting a hand out, almost pleading with the audience…she rolls back, popping to her feet and heading to the corner, and gazes across the ring at her opponent, Nikki Caldwell.
MM: These two are no strangers to each other, having faced off in multiple tag-team contests over the passing months…
VA: Yes, but the constant shift between singles competition and tag-team matches have to be causing havoc for both of these Warriors. They’re completely different styles and strategies, and it has to be hard to keep it all straight due to instinct kicking in.
As the match begins, Lagrima gains the early advantage, working on Nikki’s arm, using various armbars to wrench and twist Nikki up, softening her for the killing blow. Caldwell, no stronger to singles competition returned with a volley of offense of her own, spearing Lagrima near the corner, causing her head to whiplash off the bottom turnbuckle.
Slowing the match down, Lagrima took a rest on the outside as Nikki Caldwell shook out her arm in the ring–
MM: Wise move on Lagrima’s part to get the hell outta there. Look at the impact of her head bouncing off the bottom buckle when Nikki hit that spear.
VA: Unfortunate ring positioning. This goes to show a quick example of tag-team versus singles wrestling. Lagrima and Nikki are so used to fighting near the corners, which is what made that side-effect of that spear possible. Had she been in the middle of the ring where she belongs, her head doesn’t hit the buckle.
MM: That’s … quite an astute observation, Ashe.
VA: That’s what they pay me for, Malone, to observe. Speaking of which, I’ve been observing those photos of Sahara and Nikki, have you seen–
MM: STOP IT. I said it once at the beginning of this match and I’ll say it again, Nikki Caldwell deserves to be remembered for more than what … ya know what? I won’t let you — or Sahara — or anyone else undermine what this girl brings to the table. She’s a decorated EWA Warrior that deserves the respect of her peers, and the same can be said of Lagrima.
Rolling back in the ring at the sound of six, the match resumes with Lagrima immediately returning to work on the Amazon’s shoulder, planting her down into the match with a death valley driver right on the shoulder…
MM: Kickout! Lagrima has really gone to work on that shoulder.
Commencing the action, Lagrima pulls Nikki into a headlock, yanking back, she drives her knee into Nikki’s upper back as she yells at the ref to check her–
MM: Nikki holding on here, look at the torque on her neck and back from Lagrima here. Slowly wearing her down, with move after move on that upper back and shoulder area. It’s like watching a surgeon.
VA: It’s common tag-tactics, Malone. Wear the opponent down and tag in the fresh teammate, and I’ve noticed both Lagrima and Nikki look to empty corners out of instinct on more than one occasion throughout this match.
Fighting her way out of the hold, Nikki unleashed a barrage of strikes, leading to a headscissor takedown, but the agile Lagrima is able to roll through the move, using the momentum created to her advantage. As Nikki charges from the ropes, Lagrama connects with a vicious back elbow coming from a handspring, timing the move perfectly and staggering the rookie!
MM: Wow, what an exchange!!
VA: Lagrima is as impressive as they come, Malone, though I wish I knew the names of half of these moves–but I don’t speak foreign.
Grabbing hold of Nikki, Lagrima flips over the rookie and attempts a sunset flip bomb, but NIkki is able to grab hold of the top rope — Nikki drops down, CRUSHING Lagrima beneath her weight! Yanking her opponent back to her feet, Caldwell sends her into the ropes, but Lagrima instinctively locks her arms around the ropes while catching her breath and catches Nikki with a defensive roundhouse as she charges! Grabbing Nikki in an armbar, Lagrima reaches back!!!
MM: I OF THE STORM! I OF THE STORM!
In a slight moment of confusion, Nikki seizes the advantage and nails Lagrima with her patented snapmare driver, unleashing a howling scream as she does it.
VA: Now THAT was impressive.
MM: Wow, the impact of that!
Dropping on Lagrima, Nikki hooks both legs and rolls her up high on her shoulders–
Springing up to his feet, referee Juan Cardillo calls for the bell…
NR: The winner of this match by pinfall, from Cerberus, Nikki Caldwell!!!
MM: Wow. in just one little moment, Caldwell was able to take advantage. Such an impressive move that can be hit out of nowhere. So dangerous.
VA: Lagrima’s an accomplished wrestler, Malone, but I can’t help but feel her string of tag-team and singles matches caused that moment of hesitation. Look at the replay right before Caldwell hit that I Of The Storm, Lagrima reached back to make a tag–
MM: Oh wow, she did! Impressive display nonetheless from both competitors–wait, what’s this? Nikki is calling for a mic–
Rolling out of the ring, holding her head in disappointment, Lagrima heads to the back, shaking out the cobwebs as Nikki Rogers hands her mic over to the Amazon.
YOUR WINNER BY PINFALL: NIKKI CALDWELL (9:31)
Nikki Caldwell: I’m still here right now because I didn’t just come out tonight focused on winning a match. I have something to say. An apology to Jada Kaine, Sinnocence…
Because before This Means War, you called a group of us together– I won’t name names, but it’s not a huge mystery to draw those lines– and told us you forbade us from doing one thing.
And see, I’ve looked up to you practically since day one that I stepped into EWA. Training with you and your son, your hand picked family, was an honor that I’ll never take lightly for one second. It was more than that, though. You gave us each pieces of yourself. I got an actual physical token with your jacket.
(The ring crew, taking the hint, hands it in. Nikki shoulders it on.)
Nikki Caldwell: … And I gave you pieces of myself. I told you about my family, about losing my mother…
(Nikki’s words slow over this topic she’s never publicly addressed, as the audience stirs.)
Nikki Caldwell: … About losing my mother. And in turn, you became a mother figure for me in this new phase of my life. You’ve meant so much to so many people– from those of us like me who knew you up close, to the fans out there right now who watched you on the screen and took up the message of strength that you spent so many years sending.
Which is why I don’t take pride in going against the only thing you asked of me.
You asked us, if you should fall, not to go after Sahara.
VA: Not to go after Sahara! Did you hear that, Mike?!
(Of course, Nikki, the subject of Those Photos, just saying that name? Makes the crowd erupt, even if they’re not sure what’s happening yet. Nikki bows her head, waiting for them to calm, but the gesture doesn’t hide the grin it’s brought. She clears her throat as they start to cool.)
Nikki Caldwell: But for me, all roads right now lead to the Crimson Queen. It’s impossible to untwine myself from her, no matter how hard I wish to play The Good Daughter a little longer, no matter how well I behave myself. Regardless of what was intentional and what was instinctive on either of our parts? We’re forged together in this, Sahara.
And I’m sure you’ll say I’m not on your level yet, but that’s horseshit, isn’t it? You– you got everywhere you are by ignoring every person who’d try to tell you what level you were on. You were just talking about it earlier, weren’t you. As fucked up as all of this is, as much of a heinous bitch as you are, if I can admire anything in you? That’d be it. You never, ever listened to that shit, so spare yourself trying to shovel it on me, hm?
(Cut off by the Crimson Queen’s music, Nikki Caldwell sighs, knowing this interruption was coming sooner or later.)
“Woah, woah, woah, woah–”
(As the blonde slayer of the Viking Queen emerges through the curtains, her repeated ‘Woah’s’ echo over the arena as she takes position at the top of the rampway on the stage and the boo’s rain down. Making a repeating circular motion with the mic, as if to emote ‘get it out of your system’, Sahara waits for the crowd to calm itself.)
Nikki Caldwell: I’m surprised your outsized ego fit through the curtain–
MM: She ain’t kidding. Look at her standing atop the stage.
VA: She is amazing looking, Malone.
MM: That’s not what I mean. I mean, look at her demeanor, it just drips with arrogance and condescension. She thinks she’s all that and then some…look at her ring attire, Victory and Valhalla written on her boots like she’s the second coming–
VA: She is! She took down the legendary Sinnocence, Malone. Finished the job good ol’ Osbourne Kilminster couldn’t finish over a year ago and ascended to the throne of Valhalla!
MM: I sometimes wonder if you can hear yourself…
(Sweeping a few of the intricate braids to the side, an amused smile emerges on her face as she lifts the mic to her lips, sparking off another round of thunderous boos. With a shake of the head, she tucks the mic under an arm and with an annoyed sigh, Sahara pulls out her iPhone–)
MM: Is…is she Tweeting or something?!
VA: Well, these idiots won’t hold it down so she can talk, so she may as well do something constructive while she waits!
MM: That’s not constructive, it’s disrespectful, and she knows it.
(The crowd merely boos even louder at Sahara’s nonchalance–seeing this, Nikki Caldwell paces the ring, her anger and frustration growing with every passing second, knowing full well how the blonde operates.)
Nikki Caldwell: You are something else, Sahara…you really are…
(Taking up the mic again, Sahara clicks the sleep button on her phone–)
Sahara: First off, hashtag rude…all of you here in the Combat Zone. I came out here to have a conversation with my good friend Nikki Caldwell and this is the reception I get after ridding the world of the legendary Sinn–
(She doesn’t get to finish her sentence as the crowd’s reaction drowns her out, causing her to raise her voice.)
Sahara: ARE YA DONE?! I got all night, people, I ain’t even scheduled to wrestle, not that any of you deserve to see me in action anyway–
(Holding out her hands to calm the crowd, Nikki Caldwell looks down the rampway at Sahara with a raging fire in her eyes.)
Nikki Caldwell: By all means, let’s hear what this loudmouth has got to say…
(The crowd pops for Nikki only Sahara immediately shuts it down.)
Sahara: Oh, shut up already, so I can get this over with. Okay, first and foremost, if I may, I know you people say I never do anything nice so I wanna just take a moment to shine a little spotlight to a special little family that lives in my apartment building seated somewhere in the front row. Stand up so we can see ya–
MM: This is … unexpected?
VA: She’s an angel, Malone. Always putting others in front of herself…
(The family stands and waves to the cameras, all smiles.)
Sahara: There they are…such a nice family. Yeah, I just wanted to personally thank you morons for filing that noise complaint against me so you could get those comps…hey, I hear if you call McDonalds headquarters and ‘fake’ complain, they’ll send ya free coupons while yer at it–
MM: Now she’s taken to embarrassing EWA fans. Unbelievable. This family was given these seats as an apology from the EWA front office because of Sahara’s excessive partying–
VA: My invite musta got lost in the mail…
“SHUT UP BLOND-IE!”
*clap clap clap-clap-clap*
(The chant quickly spreads across the arena.)
“SHUT UP BLOND-IE!”
*clap clap clap-clap-clap*
“SHUT UP BLOND-IE!”
*clap clap clap-clap-clap*
Sahara: NO YOU SHUT UP!
(Nikki Caldwell finally cuts in as the chant dies off–)
Nikki Caldwell: God, you are such a bitch!
(Approaching the side of the ring that family is seated, Nikki shakes her head…)
Nikki Caldwell: Don’t feel so bad, you just live in the same building as she does — I gotta work with the BITCH!
(The crowd pops.)
Nikki Caldwell: I’ll tell ya what, after the show, how about you all come backstage and hang out with Cerberus?!
(Rolling her eyes atop the stage, Sahara chimes in–)
Sahara: Oh whatever, give the complainers more free shit while yer–
(Without further hesitation, Nikki turns toward the entrance ramp.)
Nikki Caldwell: ENOUGH! How about you get back on track and answer my damn challenge, Blondie?! You come out here wanting to talk about anything BUT what I asked–
(Sahara rolls her eyes. Again.)
Sahara: Alright. Fine. You all wanna hear what I gotta say about Nikki’s ‘so-called’ challenge? To quote Clubber Lang in Rocky III, I reject the challenge cuz Nikki Caldwell is no challenge–
(The crowd boos the rejection–)
VA: She can keep working this crowd all night, Malone! And color me impressed, she knows Rocky 3!
MM: Wow. Color me surprised that she’d reject the challenge…and of course she does, she’s from a family of older boys.
VA: And her little brother, what’s his name again?
Sahara: No due respect, Miss Amazon, but who the hell are you to challenge me?! Your biggest claim–no, your ONLY claim to fame is MY head between your legs, and that’s the only reason these people even know who you are. So instead of challenging me to a fight, you should be bowin’ down. Yer welcome … for making you relevant!
VA: She’s got a point, Malone!
MM: The HELL she does! Nikki Caldwell is a former EWA World Tag-Team Champion!
Sahara: Look, I know what it’s like. There was a time I came in here and people laughed at me much like I’m laughin’ at you right now, Nikki. And I remember how much I hated it. I remember the way it made me feel. The way it fueled me. Needless to say, they ain’t laughin’ anymore. But that kinda relevance takes time. So if you wanna be remembered for being more than the chick Sahara went down on, I suggest you show us what ya got…and I don’t mean by inheriting a tag-title reign or hanging out with the right crew at the right time…
I know you been here for a while, but forgive me when I tell it like it is. You took a backseat in MoCaJo or Crapabus, or whatever the hell you call that 1 Potter Park Crew and you coasted–
(The crowd boos but Sahara merely shrugs it off…)
Sahara: Yeah, I get it, you hate me. But those are the facts, so if you wanna face me, Nikki? Then it’s time you step outta the shadows and prove yer worthy. I didn’t step into this place and issue challenges to former world champions or main eventers no matter how much I may have hated them for who they were or how they got to where they are–I earned that right, and now…so will you. So here’s my counter offer–
At Battlelines 40, you’ll face my baby brother, Mauri–
(As the boos pick up, Sahara lowers the mic with a look of pure annoyance on her face…)
MM: Rude? Who the hell does she think she is booking matches?! And having her brother, who doesn’t even like her, fight her battles for her?!
VA: She’s the NEW Viking Queen, Malone. And the Queen has spoken…
Sahara: Ya done?! Are you ignorant wretches ever gonna let me finish a goddamn sentence?!
Nikki Caldwell: Maybe if you weren’t such a low-life C-U-Next-Tuesday they’d let you talk…
(Before the crowd can pick up laughing where they left off, Sahara simply raises her voice–)
Sahara: Oh, how cheeky of you, callin’ me a cunt. If you ever wanna see Nikki versus Sahara, this is how it’s gonna go down…
At Battlelines 40, you face my little brother, and if you can somehow get past him, at 41, you face my leftovers, Josh ‘I lasted 20 seconds with Sahara’ Kaine. And IF you can somehow get past him, MAYBE we can talk–but if you can’t?! Then there ain’t no us—
(‘Legs’ by Kid Rock suddenly hits the PA and Sahara tilts her head back with a visible groan. In the ring, a smile forms on Nikki Caldwell’s face.)
MM: Stacy Vandervort is here!
VA: Wonderful. I’m. So. Thrilled.
(Walking up alongside Sahara, Stacy looks the blonde up and down with a look of anger and annoyance as the crowd cheers the EWA Executive Assistant’s arrival. Stacy reaches out for the mic Sahara is holding, but she refuses to let it go. A smirk crosses Stacy’s face as she whispers something to the blonde before she finally hands it over.)
MM: You’d think the mic was the world title or something the way she was hoarding it…
(Stacy Vandervorts’ voice brims with venomous intent.)
Stacy Vandervort: You’ve got some nerve, Blondie.
(Motioning to the ring, the front office executive takes a moment to acknowledge Nikki Caldwell.)
Stacy Vandervort: Nikki has every right to want revenge for what you’ve done–
MM: You’re damn right she does!
Stacy Vandervort: But I’d be remiss if I weren’t without reservation…and as much as it pains me to say this, a part of me agrees with Blondie here…
(A very satisfied smile crosses Sahara’s face as she looks out at the crowd and feigns a crying motion.)
VA: You heard her, Sahara’s right!
Stacy Vandervort: After personally witnessing the reckless damage you inflicted in recent weeks on both Josh Kaine and my dear friend, Jada–
(Stacy pauses as the crowd reacts, directing the full force of their vitriol toward the blonde who simply holds up her hands, begging for more. Stacy simply shakes her head at the blonde’s outright callousness, enjoying every bit of the heat given by the fans.)
Stacy Vandervort: Unfortunately, it would be equally reckless of me to place Nikki Caldwell in a similar situation, simply because we all know your blissful ignorance of the rules would place her career in jeopardy. So as I once told Blondie, and in the interest of fairness, I have to tell you, Nikki Caldwell. I need you to show me something. I need to know, unequivocally, that you’re ready for this before I put you in the ring with someone like Sahara.
(The crowd boos the unfortunate announcement.)
VA: She always was fair, Malone. And ya gotta admit, this is fair.
Stacy Vandervort: Having said that, the very idea that this…bitch…
(She pauses as the crowd explodes into cheers at the remark, while Sahara rolls her eyes.)
Stacy Vandervort: …expects you to face off against the other members of Cerberus is absolutely ridiculous. So instead–
Nikki Caldwell: No!
(By the look on Stacy’s face, Nikki’s objections have caught her off guard.)
Nikki Caldwell: She thinks I’ll back out of having to face Josh and Moe, but she doesn’t know how we roll. That’s perfect for me– just like Sahara and me, Sinnocence trained ’em. And as brutal as training with Sinn was– and whatever you’re imagining right now, I’m telling you now it was rougher– they’re who I need to prove myself against. Yeah?
(The EWA Executive Assistant seems to ponder Nikki’s words for a few moments before Sahara leans in with a few words of her own–)
Sahara: Hold up! If we’re gonna do this, I’m gonna need some assurances they don’t just throw the fig–
(Stacy yanks the mic away from Sahara’s mouth and takes a step back, her voice tinged with annoyance.)
Stacy Vandervort: Jesus Christ. Could you please shut up for just a few goddamn seconds, Sahara?!
(The crowd cheers as Stacy snaps at the other blonde standing atop the stage.)
Stacy Vandervort: Alright. If Nikki’s sure about this, I’m signing off on it. With that said, we’re gonna run a bit of a gauntlet over the next few shows and should Nikki survive, Blondie, all roads lead right to YOU!
(Stacy points a finger directly at Sahara as the crowd cheers–)
Stacy Vandervort: And furthermore, these matches will be at the discretion of our officials. We at the EWA trust our trained officials to be able to call it down the middle. If the assigned official thinks these matches aren’t on the up and up, I’ll instruct them to immediately disqualify Nikki from the match, and subsequently the gauntlet as a whole.
(Vandervort snaps her head back toward Sahara, her eyes blazing through the former World Champion.)
Stacy Vandervort: Satisfied, Sahara?
(Leaning back in to share the mic in Stacy’s hand–)
Sahara: Satisfied? Not even close, Stacy. But whatever. Nikki, I’d wish ya luck, but honestly, I can’t wait to watch you fall flat on your annoying face. Oh, and in case the rest of you were wondering, yeah … she does taste as good as she–
(Vandervort abruptly yanks the mic away from Sahara in exasperation, and the blonde smirks as she slowly backs away from the executive assistant with a snarky little sway before disappearing to the back. Stacy turns back toward Nikki Caldwell, a grim expression on her face.)
Stacy Vandervort: Nikki…good luck. I have a feeling you’re gonna need it.
VA: Boy, will she ever!
MM: I have a feeling we’re about to find out exactly what Nikki Caldwell is made of, ladies and gentlemen!
MM: Folks, injuries are unfortunately a huge part of our business, and at This Means War two of our fiercest warriors fell victim to them. William West suffered a concussion during the Lumberjack Match between Indrid Calder and Michael Draven, and has to date not been cleared to return to action. We hope to have updates on his status soon. As for Gra–
VA: Don’t say it, Malone! I can’t bear to hear it!
MM: …as for Grace Goeren, she was initially believed to have suffered minor injuries during that horrendous Asylum match for the EWA Tag Team Championship. While EWA Head of Public Relations Shawna Jackson has refused to comment on Grace’s actual status, we’re being told that her injuries are being declared more serious than initially thought, and she’ll be out of action for a period of time.
VA: Praise you, Grace! I will hold down the fort in your stead, and spread the gospel of your teachings!
MM: With that, let’s go to the ring for our next contest!
ERIN GORDON VS MARTIN ROBERTSON
NR: Ladies and gentlemen, the following contest is scheduled for one fall! Introducing first…
The lights in the arena go dark as the opening chords to Thrice’s “Hurricane” begins to play over the arean’s sound system…
NR: Hailing from Blooming Valley Pennsylvania… this is ERIN… GORDON!
Grey lights illuminate the entrance stage and the curtain behind it as they slowly focus on the figure standing in the middle of the ramp, posed in a fighting stance. With her hair blowing in the breeze coming across the stage, Erin gazes out towards the crowd as the music picks up. Once the lights are solely focused on her, she straightens up, smiling as she makes her way down the ramp, slapping hands with as many fans as she can along the ramp and ringside area…
MM: Here comes the confident young rookie, Vince.
VA: How can she be confident, Malone? She didn’t win either match she’s had against Sterling!
MM: She might not have won, but she’s shown that fire that it takes to be a top competitor here in the EWA.
VA: Well, she’s going to need more than fire tonight, Malone. She’s stepping up in weight class, so to speak, with who she’s about to face!
As Erin rests in the far corner of the ring, the lights in the arena dim down again. As the arena becomes pitch black, the image of the Skull King appears on the screen above the entrance stage as her opponent’s music, “Hail to the King” by Avenged Sevenfold, begins to play over the sound system…
NR: And her opponent! He hails from New Roc….
Nikki’s mic cuts out. The dim lights still in the arena show Nikki tapping on the microphone, trying to get it working again…
NR: … mon, what the… there we go. Hailing from New Rochelle, New York. He is the You…
Once again, the microphone cuts out.
MM: What’s going on with the microphone, Vince?
VA: Do I look like Mr. Robot to you?
NR: … sus Christ! He is the Youth King, MARTIN… ROBERTSON!
We start to see the curtain on the entrance stage ruffle, but just as it starts to move, now Martin’s entrance music begins to cut in and out, static parsing itself into the music every few seconds…
VA: What the hell is this engineering crew doing? They’re ruining one of the greatest songs in the history of rock and roll!
MM: What did you tell me earlier? Do I look like a robot?
VA: It’s Mr. Robot, Malone. Get it right!
MM: Whomever it is, they better look into the sound system here!
Martin steps out onto the entrance ramp, but missing his traditional royal purple robe, instead wearing one of his Perfection t-shirts sold on ewashop.com. He looks back towards the curtain, obviously flustered by the entrance flub, but he doesn’t stop to wait for Alyssa to come out onto the ramp as well, as he rips off his t-shirt and marches down the ramp and towards the ring. Alyssa’s trying to catch up, but as soon as Martin enters the ring, he makes a beeline straight towards Gordon.
MM: Robertson’s not wasting any time here!
VA: Obviously he must think Erin had something to do with this entrance fiasco!
Erin tries to fight off Martin, landing a couple of shots, but he backs her into the corner and starts pounding away with fists. Martin kept the onslaught on for the first minute, but after a whip to the far corner, Martin charged, but Erin was able to move before being run through by Martin, and Erin started to turn the tables on the Youth King. The rookie was able to trap Martin in the corner, landing a fury of uppercuts before sending Martin to the outside with a spinning back elbow square to the jaw of the second generation superstar. Martin did his best to try and get a breath on the floor, but Gordon followed him, slamming him into the ring apron and the guardrail a number of times before Martin quickly ducked behind Alyssa. The Queen Bitch and the rookie had a stare down for a moment, which gave Martin enough time to get back into the ring.
Once Gordon tried to re-enter the ring, Martin proved that he was winning the cat and mouse game, and took over against the rookie from Blooming Valley. Martin slowed the match down by using his amateur wrestling pedigree, keeping Gordon down on the mat with a wide variety of suplexes and stretches meant to inflict the maximum amount of punishment on the rookie as he could. It looked like, at one point, he might get a submission victory over Gordon, locking in a single leg Boston Crab and, just as Gordon was about to get to the ropes, Martin pulled the rookie back towards the center of the ring, switching from the crab to a kneebar submission. The rooke screamed in agony, but showed an incredible amount of resilience, and managed to reach the ropes.
Once Martin let go of the submission, Erin managed to drag herself over to the corner, where the rookie, with a very veteran maneuver, baited Martin in and, just as he got to the corner, she used Martin’s leverage to pull him into the middle turnbuckle head first, giving her a minute to recuperate. Erin rolled to the center of the ring, and as both competitors regained their senses, Erin, on one leg, started to turn up the heat on Martin, taking him down with a Thesz press as Martin charged at the rookie, clobbering him with thunderous punches from the mount. She picked Martin up and whipped him to the corner, somehow managing to whip up enough strength to land a running knee in the corner, stunning the former Network Champion. Martin stumbles out of the corner, but standing in the middle of the ring, still favoring the knee, is Gordon, who lands a vicious spinning back elbow, quickly making a cover, but Robertson is able to kick out just before the count of three.
MM: Erin Gordon is putting on quite the display here against the Youth King!
VA: I thought we were about to see Martin lose again!
MM: We still may, Vince. I’m not sure Martin knows exactly where he is at the moment after that spinning back elbow!
Erin pulls Martin to his feet, who is wobbly in the middle of the ring.
MM: I think she’s signaling for that spinning back fist, Vin… now wait just a damn minute!
Just as Erin is about to land the Nor’Easter, up on the apron hops Alyssa.
MM: Get her off the damn apron!
VA: Maybe she has something to tell the ref.
MM: She can’t always have something to tell the ref, Vince. Do you really believe that each time you say it?
VA: Of course I do…. Yeah…
MM: David Tucker is over there, trying to get her off the apron…
VA: You think she cares what Tucker has to say to her?
MM: No, but she might care what Erin Gordon has to stay! She’s pushed Tucker out of the way, and now the rookie is in the face of the Queen Bitch!
VA: Malone! Such language!
MM: What in the… Alyssa just tried to slap Erin! But Erin with a straight shot, square in the nose of Alyssa!
VA: She can’t do that! She just busted Alyssa’s nose open! Look, she’s bleeding!
MM: Erin Gordon just did what everyone in the EWA has wanted to do to Alyssa for years!
VA: She can’t get away with that…
MM: Well, she just did… BUT NOT THAT! PURE PERFECTION BY MARTIN! Cover…
NR: Your winner of the match, ‘Perfection’ Martin Robertson!
MM: Robertson picks up the win here, Vince… but not without a casualty!
VA: That’s what you get, rookie, for punching the Queen of the EWA!
Martin doesn’t even celebrate in the ring as he’s immediately down on the outside tending to Alyssa, screaming for someone at ringside to hand him a towel. After a few seconds, one of the production assistants hands him a white towel to put over the nose of Alyssa, but you can see the blood on her hands from trying to stop the blood coming from her nose.
MM: Gordon put up a good fight, though.
VA: It doesn’t matter if you put up a good fight, Malone. It’s all about wins and losses, and Martin got the win. Nobody cares about the other stuff.
MM: He did get the win, something he definitely needed after This Means War!
YOUR WINNER BY PINFALL: MARTIN ROBERTSON (9:55)
(We cut back to the announce table as Malone and Ashe are getting ready to call the next match, only to have Ashe turn around and start jawing with some diehard fans at ringside who have been heckling him throughout the night.)
VA: …and another thing, it’s called DE-ODOR-ANT! Look it up! Even on a fry cook salary I bet you can afford a bar!
MM: Easy there, easy…let’s get back to the show partner.
(Ashe reluctantly turns back towards the camera, clearly still focused on the fans behind him but soldiering on.)
VA: I swear to Grace, we need to petition the company to move out of the Northeast. These people are animals out here.
MM: Maybe they just don’t like you.
VA: How can anyone not like me? I’m the voice of EWA!
MM: Is that seriously how you view yourself?
VA: Yeah? Why, how do you…
(Before Ashe’s fragile psyche can be shattered even further…the lights in the arena suddenly go out. The crowd explode to their feet in excitement, not sure what’s happening next but they all know its about to be good. The video screens in the arena slowly flicker to life as a revolving “A.G.” logo appears and the opening chords of “Sieben” by Subway To Sally begin their familiar refrain.)
VA: Oh no…
MM: Oh yes, partner! We’re about to get a Megastar appearance!
(A thunderous explosion of gold and red pyro erupts at the top of the ramp as the curtain flutters back and AZRAEL GOEREN slowly emerges from behind it, gingerly stepping out onto the top of the ramp with a beaming smile on his face. Azrael’s face is covered with a variety of different bandages, ranging from a massive butterfly bandage across the bridge of his nose to dozens of smaller ones covering the potholes that Donovan King dug into his flesh using barbed wire in their epic, hellacious match at This Means War. He takes a step forward and winces, turning back towards the curtain as an EWA official quickly runs out onto the stage holding a crutch. He braces Azrael’s back and helps him get the crutch situated under his arm before Azrael thanks him and he disappears backstage.)
VA: That would have been the perfect opportunity to whallop him with that crutch. We need to fire that guy, ASAP.
MM: I’m amazed that Azrael is even here tonight after that…that…I don’t even know how to describe what happened between him and Donovan King at This Means War.
VA: It was like a war of attrition, Malone. Only the wrong guy survived.
MM: It was one of the most violent and sick matches I have ever been witness to and I have seen some real doozies in this line of work.
VA: Ugh, listen to these idiots cheer him on. What is wrong with you freaks?!
(Despite Ashe’s pleading, the sold out crowd only gets louder as Azrael slowly makes his way down the ramp under the assistance of his crutch. He stops every few feet to high five the fans and take a few selfies with them, planting a kiss on the cheek of a young lady in the front row before making it to the ring steps.)
VA: He forced himself on that girl, did you see that? Security! SECURITY!!
MM: Can you please shut up for once in your life? Azrael Goeren is not a perfect man by any stretch of the imagination but after finally winning that deeply personal war against Donovan King I think he deserves a few minutes of recognition.
VA: Fine. Whatever. If anyone needs me, I’ll be on Reddit.
(Azrael, with the assistance of Nikki Rogers at ringside, slowly scales the ring steps and steps through the middle ropes with a noticeable grimace and wince. Nikki hands him his crutch over the top rope as the crowd is only getting louder and louder.)
(Goeren smiles and takes a microphone from her, looking out at the crowd with that huge smile still painted on his face. He moves to the center of the ring and closes his eyes, taking this moment all in as the cheers are almost deafening at this point. He opens his eyes slowly and brings the microphone to his mouth.)
Azrael Goeren: Danke.
(Another round of explosive cheers as Azrael chuckles to himself and motions with his free hand towards his body.)
Azrael Goeren: I’ll be honest mein freunds, I didn’t think that I would be here with you tonight. Not in the weeks and days leading up to This Means War and certainly not after the match started. But here…we…are.
Azrael Goeren: Danke. Thank you, all. And I mean that from the bottom of my heart. Thank you. Thank you for the get well cards, thank you for all of the tweets…and an especially big thank you to Mrs. Mortimer Witherby over in Dorchester Heights for sending me a bundt cake while I was recovering in the hospital. It was like a fairy orgasmed a thousand sugary ejaculations in my mouth. Delish!
(An overly exaggerated wink later, Azrael resumes his train of thought.)
Azrael Goeren: What went down between Donovan and myself that night was something I would never wish on anyone…but it had to happen. Not just for my sake…that match wasn’t about saving me. It was about saving him. And I don’t know what’s going to happen with Donovan King from this point forward. I hope he had what we addicts call a “moment of clarity”. I think he did. I hope he did. Because he can heal right along with me. We can both become stronger and put our hate aside. This world has far too much hate in it as is, it certainly doesn’t need any more.
(The German Megastar leans heavily on his crutch, looking up towards the ramp.)
Azrael Goeren: So Donovan, wherever you are…I hope you can hear me right now. I hope you recover. Not just from what we did to each other physically in that match…but mentally as well. Go home. Be with your family. Rebuild your life. Be the man you always wanted to be and leave all of this behind.
(Azrael’s voice wavers for a moment as he turns back towards the crowd.)
Azrael Goeren: Because that is exactly what I plan on doing as well.
VA: Wait, what?
(The crowd’s cheering begins to die down into a murmur as Azrael takes a deep breath and continues.)
Azrael Goeren: I started wrestling when I was eighteen years old. That was almost twenty-two years ago. Twenty-two years of spilling blood and breaking bones and chairs and barbed wire and championship belts and being spit on and being hated. Until I came here. Until I came to EWA.
(Pointing out to all the fans, Azrael breaks into another smile.)
Azrael Goeren: I had been blackballed for years and when I showed up here to save my old friend X-Calibur…you people cheered me. You cheered…me. Azrael Goeren. The so-called “cancer of professional wrestling”. I mean, I just assumed you were all high on mescaline when you did that…but then you cheered me the next night too. And the next night. And it felt good. I mean really good. Higher than I could have ever gotten with pills or crushed up ant thoraxes laced in methamphetamines.
(The crowd laughs and cheers again, but definitely more muted than before.)
Azrael Goeren: You all made me take stock of the life that I had lived up to that point and see with a clear pair of eyes all of the mistakes I had made. Inside and out of the ring. With my family. With my children…
VA: If he says ONE bad thing about Grace I’m going to…
MM: Shhhh! Sit down and let the man talk!
Azrael Goeren: So I’ve spent the last few years trying to make amends for everything that I’ve done. Along the way I’ve gotten my son back and I began a relationship with an amazing woman who loved me for who I was…and the man I could still grow to be. That’s love, ladies and gentlemen. If you ever find a woman or man like that, you hold on tight and you never let go no matter how many bumps in the road there are along the way.
(A very loud and raucous “SINNOCENCE” chant starts up in the crowd as Azrael nods his head vigorously with a smile.)
Azrael Goeren: You better fucking believe it, she’s my Wikinger Königin…and it’s time I got back to her. For good.
(Azrael takes a step back and looks at one corner of the ring…and then another. He runs his hands along the ring ropes and slowly makes his way to the corner, tapping the turnbuckles with his wrists.)
Azrael Goeren: I’ve fought legends and icons inside rings just like this over the last two decades. I’ve been in Devious Cathedrals and Masters of the Mats. I’ve been thrown through office windows and set on fire. Twice. I’ve wrestled on six continents and been banned from most of them shortly after. I’ve lived a hundred lifetimes and experienced amazing things in this business…and with all of you.
(The sold out crowd gives Azrael a rousing ovation after that last sentence as another chant begins from somewhere in the cheap seats and catches fire quickly with the rest of the audience. Azrael has to turn away when he hears it, lowering his head and biting his lip.)
“THANK YOU AZRAEL!”
*CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP*
“THANK YOU AZRAEL!”
*CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP*
“THANK YOU AZRAEL!”
(Azrael lifts his head back up, tears in his eyes.)
Azrael Goeren: Nein mein freunds. Thank you. Thank you EWA for giving me the opportunity to lead a better life. Thank you to everyone in the back and everyone out here. Thank you all so much.
“THANK YOU AZRAEL!”
*CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP*
“THANK YOU AZRAEL!”
*CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP*
“THANK YOU AZRAEL!”
Azrael Goeren: So…for one last time…this is your Sensation Not From This Nation. Your Sultan of Sleaze. Your Joygasmically Delicious Champion. Your One and Only Megastar. And I’m finally going home.
(With that, Azrael sets the microphone down in the middle of the ring and “Sieben” plays one more time. Azrael wipes away his tears and mouths “thank you” to the fans once again, everyone standing and clapping enthusiastically as Azrael slowly takes a bow and closes his eyes once again to soak it all in.)
MM: There he is, ladies and gentlemen…too weird to live…and too rare to die. Goodbye, Henrik.
(Azrael opens his eyes and nods his head in approval at the standing ovation, slowly making his way through the ropes and back down onto the floor. He stops and high fives every fan he can while making his way back up the ramp before he stops at the top and takes a deep breath. )
VA: This is embarrassing, Malone. Can we cut away yet?
MM: Are you seriously that depraved that you can’t even take a few seconds to appreciate what Azrael Goeren has done in this business?
VA: Hey, don’t go bitching at me, I’m the happiest guy in the arena right now. Azrael Goeren retiring is the best news I’ve heard in a LONG time!
MM: You are something else. You really are. You only hate him because Grace does.
VA: Can’t think of a better reason than that!
(Azrael waves out to the crowd again and takes another bow at the top of the stage before he turns and heads towards the curtains…
…only to have “Chaos Royale” by Sister Sins explodes over the arena’s loudspeakers!)
MM: Oh my god…
VA: YES! OH MY GOD YES! PRAISE GRACE! PRAISE GRACE!
MM: Is that lunatic honestly coming out here right now to attack her own father after he just retired?! She’s not even cleared to compete right now!!
VA: Oh yeah baby, we’re gonna get an Ol Yeller execution, courtesy of the God Queen! PRAISE GRACE! PRAISE GRACE IN ALL OF HER AMAZING GLORY!
(The crowd responds with thunderous boos as Azrael takes a step back, holding onto his crutch for dear life as GRACE GOEREN slowly emerges from the back. Grace’s body shows all the damage that resulted in her going through the glass pane at This Means War but her eyes are shooting daggers at her injured father. Azrael takes another step backwards as Grace moves forward, stalking her prey.)
MM: This is just disgusting, does this woman have no conscience whatsoever?!
VA: Take him out, Grace! Didn’t she always say she was going to be the one to end his career? Didn’t she always say that? WHOOOOOO! HERE WE GO! GO GET HIM GIRL!
(Azrael stops backing up and stands his ground, realizing that there is nowhere else to go. He braces himself on his crutch again and stares back into his daughter’s eyes as Grace takes another step forward…the two of them inches from each other…
…before Grace throws an arm around her father’s neck and pulls him close, hugging him tightly as the crowd absolutely LOSES IT.)
(Grace hugs her father and buries her head in his shoulder as Azrael…for the first time ever in his life…raises his arms and holds his daughter in an embrace. He closes his eyes and rocks her gently with that smile returning to his face as the arena shakes from the reaction of the fans.)
MM: HOW DO YOU LIKE THAT! NOW THATS A MOMENT!
(Azrael reaches up and gently runs his hand to the back of Grace’s head, holding her gently before she pulls back and turns away without a word. She walks back through the curtain without another glance but the message was sent loud and clear. Azrael starts to walk after her but stops…turns back towards the crowd and flashes his trademark grin one last time…before disappearing behind the curtain as the fans continue to explode at what they just saw
The camera quickly cuts back to the announce booth as Malone is all smiles while Vincent Ashe stares back in shocked bewilderment.)
MM: What do you have to say about that, Vincent? It looks like we just saw the reconciliation of Grace Goeren and her father!
VA: I…I…you know what? I’ve always liked Azrael Goeren. Without him there could be no God Queen, after all! What a guy!
MM: Oh please…let’s go to the ring for our next contest!
STERLING VS PHILIP DONOVAN
Nikki Rogers: Ladies and gentlemen, the following contest is scheduled for one fall!
The crowd responds with the customary, “ONE FALL”.
NR: Introducing first, from Greenwich, London, weighing in at 225 pounds, STERLING!
VA: You ever notice how the EWA only announces the weights when it’s men competing against other men?
MM: Your assdom never ceases to amaze…
VA: Hey, I’m just saying…
As the music cuts in, pale blue strobe lights ignite the stage and the man known as Sterling steps onto the rampway. A sleeveless black hoodie is pulled up and sunglasses cover his eyes, he looks around into the stands and slowly begins pacing down toward the ring, unhurried in doing so. He flicks his arms out, stretching his shoulders and cracking his neck as he reaches the ringside area and looks up high into the rafters as he peels away his hoodie and sunglasses, taking a deep breath before leaping up onto the ring apron and leaping again over the top rope to take his place in the ring.
VA: I still have no idea what that L stands for on his trunks, Malone.
MM: Well, it doesn’t stand for loser as you guessed at This Means War when he obtained a victory over Erin Gordon.
VA: Ohhh, Erin Gordon. Let’s give the man a shot at the world title! Talk about barn burning…
MM: Well, tonight, the competition kicks up and we have a Philip Donovan looking to get back on the winning track, so believe you me, he’s gonna be ready to go to war here.
NR: And his opponent, from Newport Beach, California, weighing in at 212 pounds, Philip Donovan!
VA: Here we go with this ecstasy laiden entrance that’s gonna give me a freaking seizure.
As the heavy synth sounds of Carpenter Brut’s ‘Le Perv’ hits the speakers, neon green laser beams scatter and strobe across along the entrance ramp, as a singular black light spotlight shines on PhD, arms outstretched welcoming the audience.
VA: You’d think with all those t-shirts he sells, he could put together something better…
MM: Better?! It’s almost as if that’s a subjective opinion, Ashe.
VA: Subjective my ass, the only ones that care about this are the glow stick kiddies and I think they went away about twenty years ago.
MM: Well, the fans seem to love it.
PhD takes a few steps forward out of the dimming spotlight, then stops to survey the crowd. He turns his palms upward making a subtle beckoning gesture before crossing his forearms at his chest and making a two-handed “OC” gesture.
Walking down the rampway, he acknowledges the fans with random hand slaps, keeping his eyes trained on the ring. He walks up the ring steps and enters the ring by hopping over the top rope with a fluid scissor kick, staring across at his opponent, Sterling.
Rick Iley approaches the center of the ring and goes over a brief reminder of the rules before the opponents give each other a tentative fist bump in a rare show of respect. Despite being relatively new to an EWA ring, Sterling put on a show of dazzling ringsmanship, much to the surprise of the veteran, Philip Donovan. Donovan, sensing a growing swell of momentum behind the rookie, slowed the match down to halt the shift. Getting the upper hand on the newcomer, Donovan instituted a number of bruising strikes and half held submission that Sterling was able to power out of, surviving the barrage.
To the fans delight, the duo puts on a stunning back and forth affair, with Sterling showing off that dazzling display of fast paced martial arts moves that kept Philip Donovan off balance for a majority of the match.
VA: I don’t even know what half of those moves are called, Malone. I don’t like it.
MM: Whatever they’re called, they’re effective enough, just look at the expression on Phil Donovan’s face! He can feel it slipping away again after his recent and bizarre series of losses…
Colliding in the center of the ring after coming off the ropes, Sterling takes the brunt of the collision, falling to a knee where Donovan seizes the opportunity!
BLUE THUNDER BOMB!
VA: He got him! PHD GOT HIM!!!
MM: NO! He got a shoulder up!
Powering a shoulder up at the last possible second, Sterling used his ring awareness to grab the bottom rope, giving him time to recover. As Donovan came in for the kill, Sterling powered Donovan into a crossface submission, but the crafty veteran refused to tap, inching his way closer and closer to the ropes — just as he reached out to break the hold, Sterling released him, and attempted to roll him back toward the center to re-engage the move, but Donovan was able to slip through the hold, locking the rookie in the Enchanted Bunny in the center of the ring!
VA: HE GOT HIM LOCKED IN THE MOST RIDICULOUSLY NAMED MOVE … EVER!
MM: He calls it the Enchanted Bunny, and he’s got it locked on tight!
Fighting his way toward the ropes, Sterling inches his way, grasping at the mat, gasping for any amount of air he can get. Reaching out toward the ropes, Sterling makes a desperate attempt to grab the rope–
VA: He’s still inches too far away, Malone, Donovan’s got him!
MM: He’s almost there…just a bit closer, kid!!!
The arena springs to life, cheering for the match to continue as Sterling attempts to drag himself ever closer for the rope break — Donovan lets out a yell, rearing back and cinching on the hold on tighter!
STERLING GRABS FOR THE ROPE!
But Sterling’s hand hits the mat — unmoving…
MM: I–I think he’s out!
Grabbing Sterling’s arm for the check, Iley waves, tapping Philip Donovan on the shoulder to release the hold!
VA: He’s out! He’s out!
Calling for the bell, Rick Iley drops to his knees checking on Sterling as Phil Donovan rolls off his opponent and Nikki Rogers makes the official announcement.
NR: Ladies and gentlemen, the winner of this match as the result of a submission, The New Wave, Philip Donovan!
VA: The Docta’ is back, Malone, with a capital PHD!
MM: An impressive comeback victory for PHD, no doubt, but what about Sterling’s refusal to tap?! It takes a tremendous amount of fortitude to pass out before the tap, Vincent, so color me equally impressed, in spite of the loss!
VA: There’s no doubt about that, Malone, this was a close one. Sterling made one little rookie mistake by rolling that crossface back to the middle of the ring when Donovan was able to slip out of it and lock on a submission of his own. Sterling inadvertently put himself dead center of the ring, allowing PHD to garner the advantage he needed.
MM: What an exceptional showing from both men. Such is life in the ring as a rookie…one little error and a veteran like Philip Donovan can make you pay dearly.
The fans cheer as Sterling is able to get back to his feet on his own accord. Phil Donovan holds out a fist as he passes by, to which Sterling once again gives him a nod and a fist bump in a show of respect. Nodding to the referee that he’s fine, Sterling shakes his head and pounds a fist into the top turnbuckle, showing a glimmer of disappointed emotion.
VA: That’s what this kid is missing…
MM: What’s that?!
VA: A bit of an edge. That’s the first time I saw him do anything that didn’t look like some kinda emotionless robot wrestler churned out of an academy. That’s all I’m saying. He needs to get mad, and let his emotions fuel him in the ring. Too many of these kids these days are worried about respect and admiration of their opponents when they should be worried about making a statement. If he wants that L on his pants to stand for anything other than Loser, then I suggest he heed my words…
MM: You’ll be lucky if he doesn’t listen to those words and pound ya one, Vincent.
VA: I’m just doing my job.
MM: In the meantime, it appears Philip Donovan is getting back on track after his loss to Katsuro Yoshida at This Means War, and you have to wonder if those two are done with one another.
YOUR WINNER BY SUBMISSION: PHILIP DONOVAN (10:49)
(Inside Dr. Furman’s medical area, we see Alyssa sitting on the examination table, the dried blood from earlier still staining her face and chest. Dr Furman is standing in front of her, examining her nose…)
Dr. Furman: Alyssa, please sit still while I’m trying to assess the damage.
Alyssa Marie Haven: Well, stop pushing so god damn hard on it!
(Dr. Furman hands Alyssa a towel…)
Dr. Furman: Here… hold this over your nose for a moment. I’ll be right back.
(Standing behind Dr. Furman is Martin, watching the examination with intent… until he’s hit by the same towel that Dr. Furman just handed to Alyssa…)
Alyssa Marie Haven: This is all your fault!
Martin Robertson: How is this my fault? I didn’t tell you to get up on the ring apron!
Alyssa Marie Haven: You moved! Why did you move?
Martin Robertson: Why didn’t you mo…
(Returning, Dr. Furman has a clear mask in his hand…)
Alyssa Marie Haven: No! I am not wearing that ridiculous contraption!
Dr. Furman: Well, unless you’d like to never be able to breathe out of your nose again, you’ll need to wear this mask for at least 2 to 3 weeks to allow your nose to heal.
Alyssa Marie Haven: Are you fucking serious?
Dr. Furman: Do I look like someone who would joke about this?
Martin Robertson: Doc…
Alyssa Marie Haven: Shut up, Marty! Just… gimme…
(Alyssa reaches out, snatching the mask out of Dr. Furman’s hands, placing it on her face herself. Dr. Furman reaches out to make a few minor adjustments to it, but the entire time Alyssa is slapping away at his hands…)
Alyssa Marie Haven: I can… I can do it myself, thank you very much!
Dr. Furman: Fine…
(Just as the mask is fully on Alyssa’s face, into the room walks Stacy Vandervort and the acting EWA Chief Operating Officer, Cameron Black. Stacy immediately snickers at the sight of the mask on Alyssa’s face…)
Dr. Furman: Just so you know, the patient is refusing any additional medical treatment, so my work here is done.
Stacy Vandervort: (still snickering…) I think… you did an excellent job, doctor.
Alyssa Marie Haven: Shut your mouth, Stacy! It’s not funny!
(While Stacy and Alyssa were going back and forth, Cameron, the opportunist, tries to take a quick picture of the situation. But before he can grab the photo, Martin reaches out and takes the phone away from him…)
Martin Robertson: Whatcha doing on your phone, Cam?
Cameron Black: Please return my phone to me, Mr. Robertson. You don’t seem like the type of person who would like to be charged with petty larceny.
Martin Robertson: And you don’t look like the type of person who would like to have their mouth wired shut for a month after I kick their jaw through the back of their skull…
(Cameron gives pause for a moment…)
Cameron Black: I’m merely documenting the situation… for legal purposes.
Alyssa Marie Haven: My ass, Cameron. You’re taking pictures to send to Alex, which is bullshit since he still hasn’t brought his bitch ass out of hiding…
Cameron Black: I would never…
(Everyone in the room, including Stacy, all glare at Cameron…)
Cameron Black: Ok, maybe I would, but I swear that’s not what I’m doing.
Martin Robertson: Instead of being a sneaky bitch, why don’t you make yourself useful and book my rematch against NOTHING…
Stacy Vandervort: A rematch? You don’t get a rematch, Martin. You lost to NOTHING fair and square, which entitles you to nothing more than a trip to the back of the line with all of the other contenders.
Martin Robertson: I don’t think you quite understand the predicament you’re putting yourself in, Mrs. Kage.
Stacy Vandervort: Are you threatening me, Mr. Robertson?
Martin Robertson: Oh, it’s not a threat, Stacy. It’s a goddamn promise that I’m going to turn this entire company on its’ head if I’m not given what I want.
Stacy Vandervort: Is that so?
Martin Robertson: Oh, it is definitely so.
Alyssa Marie Haven: Can you two stop bickering like children? Christ, Stacy, just do your job and make the match…
Stacy Vandervort: On what merit, a win against Erin Gordon earlier? He did absolutely zero in his match with Erin to make me even want to consider him for the Atlantic Coast title, let alone the World Heavyweight title!
Cameron Black: You do realize the Atlantic Coast title is no longer in service, Stacy…
Stacy Vandervort: Yes, I am aware of that, Cameron. It’s called sarcasm. Learn it.
(Martin reaches over, pulling Alyssa off of the examination table, grabbing one of the large white towels in the process…)
Martin Robertson: Do whatever you need to do, Stacy. But don’t blame me when I do what I need to do… Cameron…
(Martin holds out Cameron’s phone towards him, but then tosses it directly into the medical waste bin on the opposite side of the examination room…)
Martin Robertson: Whoops… sorry, Cam.
(Martin turns towards Alyssa…)
Martin Robertson: Let’s go, sweetheart. This night isn’t over for us… not by a long shot.
(Martin and Alyssa leave the examination room, with Martin holding the white towel over Alyssa’s face as Stacy watches on. Cameron, meanwhile, has quickly run over to the waste bin to try and fish out his phone, as we fade back to ringside…)
INDRID CALDER & NOTHING VS JESTER SMILES & BUCK DRESDEN
it seems strange that my life should end
in such a terrible place…
MM: Here we go!
Placebo’s remix of “Without You I’m Nothing” resonates throughout the arena as two Pillars of HATE arrive. Indrid Calder stands there, breathing in the air around him as EWA World Heavyweight Champion NOTHING appears behind Calder, a cold and calculating look on his face.
NR: The following tag team contest is scheduled for ONE FALL! Introducing first…at a combined weight of 480 pounds…they are two Pillars of HATE…Indrid Calder and the World Heavyweight Champion…NOTHING!
NOTHING saunters before Calder and enters the ring, looking over the jeering masses before finally looking to Calder, who gives a knowing smirk to his brother in blood.
MM: HATE might be down a member in William West, but one thing is for sure…as long as NOTHING holds the World Championship as confidently as he does right now, there’s no telling how long their reign of terror will continue.
VA: NOTHING has gotta be riding high after This Means War, Malone. You can see it in the way he’s walking around, throwing open challenges out like they’re candy at Halloween!
NOTHING and Calder move to their corner and watch the entrance for their opponents.
The entryway begins to fill with green and purple fog. “Emperor’s New Clothes” by Panic at the Disco begins to play as the various titles and trophies throughout Jester’s career cycle through on the big screens. The parade of titles ends on the EWA Combat Championship!
JESTER SMILES appears from the back, and he comes RUNNING from the back down the ramp to the ring! He slides in and immediately goes past Nikki Rogers and attacks NOTHING and Calder! Jester is quick to fight and even the referee can’t get in between him and HATE! He wails on Calder and then on NOTHING, going at it against the both of them one on two! Calder is quick to rake the eyes and the two Pillars start to assume control!
I…AM A MAN…OF CONSTANT SORROW…
I’VE SEEN TROUBLE ALL MY DAYS…
“Man of Constant Sorrow” by Charm City Devils kicks in and the fans POP as BUCK DRESDEN steps onto the stage! He unbuckles the EWA Combat Championship, removes his coat and hat at the stage and CHARGES the ring! He slides in and immediately catches Calder unawares with a club to the back! Calder stumbles and Buck WALLOPS NOTHING with a HARD right to the side of the face! NOTHING is caught off guard and catches a belly to belly suplex for his troubles! Jester is up…VIRGINIA SIDEKICK to Calder, sending Calder rolling to the outside where NOTHING meets him.
MM: These two have got HATE reeling!
Calder finally shakes off the cobwebs and enters the ring, followed by NOTHING on the ring apron. Buck motions to Jester that he’ll start the match, but Jester forcibly pushes Buck to the corner, pointing for him to go to the ring apron. Buck sighs after the referee motions for him to go to the corner. Buck finally goes to his corner and the referee calls for the match to officially start.
VA: Those were some uncalled for attacks on the part of Jester and Buck, Malone. I’m guessing Stacy won’t fine them, though, huh?
MM: An attack before the match starts isn’t the same as force feeding liquor down a man’s throat, Vincent.
VA: That’s just my Saturday night!
MM: Dear God…who hurt you?
Jester charges at Calder, but Calder quickly ducks between the ropes, demanding Danny Smith remove Jester from the attack. The fans boo as Jester is forcibly moved away. Jester is screaming loudly as both men catch their breath on the outside.
Jester Smiles: What bitch, get in the fucking ring!? What, no massive fucking moron on your side, so you hide. Fucking step in this ring, bitch.
Calder and NOTHING walk up to their corner. NOTHING opts to start the match, and as soon as he is in the ring, Jester is on the attack, throwing punches that land precisely and devastatingly. Jester Irish Whips NOTHING into the ropes and SLAMS him with the Golden Punch! NOTHING goes down hard, but Jester does not cover. He simply begins to stomp the every loving fuck out of NOTHING. He suddenly stops, backing away.
Jester Smiles: Fucking tag out, you little bitch.
Buck yells something at Jester, but Jester ignores it. NOTHING crawls over to Indrid. Calder gets in the ring, and again Jester attacks with a flurry, but Calder is a bit more ready. He weathers the storm and is able to catch Jester with a kick to the stomach! He follows this up with a spinning neckbreaker! Calder stomps down on Jester a couple of times before hitting the ropes and dropping the elbow. Calder looks pleased with himself, but the fans boo as Calder seems to have the advantage.
MM: Jester came out on fire, but it looks like the crafty, evil Indrid Calder has taken the advantage.
Calder lifts Jester off the ground by the head, but Jester suddenly comes to life and starts firing shots at Calder. He hits Calder with a left, and then a right, and then another left, and just destroys Indrid until Indrid falls over. Again, Jester does not pin. He stomps down on Calder for a few moments before he suddenly hears Buck yelling at him. Jester turns, yelling “What?!” Jester walks towards Buck, the two clearly not on the same page. Buck pats Jester on the shoulder tagging himself in. Jester looks pissed, but Danny Smith quickly tells Jester to get in his corner. Jester begrudgingly does so.
VA: Clearly that one match with Azrael and King was a fluke, and they didn’t even look that good in that match.
MM: While I disagree with the second half of that statement, this is definitely not the same team that competed against Goeren/King.
Calder also gets the tag, bringing in a revived NOTHING. NOTHING and Buck begin to circle, and the fans get loud.
“LET’S GO BUCK!
GO DIE NOTH-ING!
LET’S GO BUCK!
GO DIE NOTH-ING!”
MM: The man…shoved alcohol down the throat of a recovered addict…and then went and attacked an AA meeting…
NOTHING and Buck lock up. Buck is the stronger and he begins to push Buck to the ropes, but NOTHING uses his speed to drop down and get behind Buck Dresden. NOTHING tries to drop Buck with a takedown, but Buck dodges, planting his feet. He throws an elbow, knocking NOTHING back, but as Buck turns around, NOTHING drops him with a dropkick. Buck scrambles up, but NOTHING drops him with a running knee. Again, Buck tries to get up, but NOTHING is there to stomp down on him.
VA: I mean, being Combat Champion is great and all, but that is the World Champion…Buck is not in the same LEAGUE as NOTHING.
NOTHING keeps the stomps coming, but all of the sudden Buck rises up, catches NOTHING underneath the leg attempting to stomp him, and shoots to his feet, lifting NOTHING high up in the air before bringing him CRASHING down to the ground! Buck covers!
NOTHING kicks out!
Buck plants some fists to NOTHING before lifting him back up. Buck grabs NOTHING by the arm and pulls him in, looking for the Buck Shot, but NOTHING ducks under and charges to the ring, tagging in Calder. Calder comes, ducks under a punch, and catches Buck in a drop toe hold! Calder tries to transition this into an STF, but Buck uses his ridiculous farm boy strength to quickly get up and get to the ropes. Calder, however, still locks in the hold, which causes Jester to charge the ring and start pummeling Calder with stomps! NOTHING hits the ring and begins to brawl with Jester! Danny Smith doesn’t know where to start, so he threatens all competitors with disqualification. Buck, who now has Calder off him, breaks up NOTHING and Jester and forces Jester back to the corner. The two argue for a minute before Jester reluctantly takes his spot on the apron. Calder is back up and he goes in with Buck. Calder tries to fake out Buck with a shoot, before coming up and goes for the throat chop, but Buck gets his hands up and blocks! Calder looks surprised, but that surprise is soon met with a hard right, followed by kick to the stomach. Buck sets Calder up in suplex position, lifts Calder up, and holds him there for a few.
MM: That is that farm boy strength! Buck is going toe to toe with Indrid Calder and has the clear advantage right now!
Buck falls back and SLAMS Calder to the math with a rough delayed vertical suplex! Buck pins!
THR-NOTHING breaks it up! Jester is about jump in again, but NOTHING backs off. Buck clears out the cobwebs, lifting Calder up with him, but this time Calder is the quick one, hitting Buck with a low blow that Danny Smith does not see! Jester argues with Danny Smith about the missed low blow, but Smith simply tells Jester to get back in the ring. Calder makes the tag, and NOTHING comes in to plant Buck with the PURE HATE!
BUT NOTHING GETS CAUGHT!
VA: Woah! How did that dumb, simple, stupid ass country farm boy see that coming!?
Buck lifts NOTHING in the air, stumbling a bit, and PLANTS NOTHING with a falling powerbomb! Buck rolls off, not having the wherewithal to cover. Buck, instead, starts crawling to his corner. NOTHING stirs and begins to crawl to his. Both Indrid and Jester reach out, ready to tag and get to work. Buck reaches first and Jester hits the ring, pulling NOTHING back to the center of the ring and stomping away! Calder, frustrated at not getting tagged, rushes to the ring anyway and attacks Jester. The two men exchanging blows until Buck gets up and grabs Calder from behind, tossing him backwards with a German Suplex! Calder rolls to the outside of the ring. Buck and Jester talk for a second. Jester gets on his hands and knees in front of the ropes. Buck Dresden hits the ropes and runs, using Jester as platform to launch himself over the ropes and onto Indrid Calder! The crowd pops loudly! Buck gets up, limping a bit, not really accustomed to high flying. Jester has climbed to the top rope. Buck lifts Calder up and Jester dives with a spaceman plancha, taking out Calder again! Buck helps Jester up and the two just begin stomping mudholes into Calder!
VA: I don’t get it. NOTHING is the legal man here.
MM: For one, I don’t think Jester much cares about who he beats up in HATE. Two, taking out Calder would-wait, what’s going on here…
As Jester and Buck beat up Calder, and as Danny Smith tells them to get back in the ring, MARTIN ROBERTSON charges into the ring! He slides in, trying not to notify Danny Smith that he is in there. He sees NOTHING stir and scouts him, preparing for a big move. As NOTHING gets up, Martin attacks and slams NOTHING with the PURE PERFECTION!
RIGHT WHEN DANNY SMITH TURNS AROUND! Smith instantly calls for the bell! Jester and Buck look confused, and they stop their beatdown of Indrid to see Robertson celebrating his attack in the ring.
NR: Ladies and gentlemen, due to the actions of Martin Robertson, Jester Smiles and Buck Dresden have been DISQUALIFIED!
The crowd boos loudly. Jester and Buck get in the ring. Jester is in Robertson’s face, and they argue back and forth.
NR: Therefore, your winners are HATE!
Jester pushes Robertson. Robertson pushes back. Jester DECKS Robertson with the Golden Punch! Buck and Jester lock eyes. They both lift Martin up and LAUNCH him out of the ring together! For good measure, Buck lifts NOTHING up and clotheslines him out of the ring! While Jester and Buck might not be the winners, they are the only two men standing in the ring. Buck holds up his hands in victory, but Jester looks unpleased. He glares down at Calder and NOTHING, seething with rage.
MM: Well…this was a hardly satisfying conclusion.
VA: I know. I wanted to see HATE beat up on Buck and Jester more.
MM: You do realize they were clearly in control, right?
VA: Wouldn’t have lasted…
YOUR WINNERS BY DISQUALIFICATION: HATE (11:19)
(A camera stationed in the gorilla position follows Martin as he comes through the entrance ramp curtain. Smiling with a pained laugh, he exits through the second set of curtains back into the main hallway in the back of the arena. Waiting for him there, wearing the clear mast given to hear earlier by Dr. Furman, is Alyssa, still not cleaned up from the earlier attack on her by Erin Gordon…)
Alyssa Marie Haven: That? That was your plan?
Martin Robertson: I told Stacy that I was going to do what I needed to do. Now maybe she’l…
(Before he can finish his sentence, marching down the hallway towards the couple is the aforementioned Stacy Vandervort…)
Stacy Vandervort: What the hell was that, Martin?
Martin Robertson: I told you I was going to do what I needed to do, Stacy. What, are you shocked that I went out and attacked NOTHING?
Alyssa Marie Haven: Well, now you’ve not only got HATE ready to bury you, but now you’ve pissed off Jester and Buck as well!
Stacy Vandervort: And you just ruined a match that you had absolutely no business in…
Martin Robertson: WRONG! I’m making it my business. It doesn’t matter what match it is. It doesn’t matter who’s in the match.
Stacy Vandervort: God damnit, Martin…
Martin Robertson: What, am I ruining your precious plans to keep me out of anything meaningful in this organization? Too bad! I don’t have any loyalty to you, to Cameron… to the EWA. It’s me, and it’s Alyssa… and if it means that it’s us against the world, then so be it. But I will get another match against the World Heavyweight Champion, Stacy.
Stacy Vandervort: You want another match against the World Heavyweight Champion? FINE!
(Just as Martin starts to smile…)
Stacy Vandervort: Next Battlelines. Martin Robertson versus NOTHING… NON-TITLE!
Alyssa Marie Haven: WHAT?
Martin Robertson: You can’t do that!
Stacy Vandervort: I can, and I just did. You just said a match against the champion. You never said anything about a title match.
(The fire and fury is seen in Martin’s face as it turns bright red…)
Stacy Vandervort: Now go before I change my mind.
(Martin stares down at Stacy for a moment before, calmly, Alyssa reaches out with her hand towards Martin’s, grabbing it and starts to pull Martin away…)
Stacy Vandervort: .. and the next time you try and interject yourself into someone else’s business, I will not be so generous.
(Martin continues to stare at Stacy for another few moments before he’s about eight steps away from Stacy, where he turns around and heads back towards his locker room…)
MM: What a revelation, Vince! A rematch from This Means War, Martin Robertson versus NOTHING!
VA: Yeah, but look at how Stacy’s protecting NOTHING… she made the match non-title!
MM: Well, if there’s any better way to prove that you still belong in the title picture, defeating the current champion would most certainly do it.
Main EventMURPHY DOYLE MAHER VS LOU
EWA NETWORK CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH
NR: Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time for our main event! This contest is scheduled for one fall and is for the EWA Network Championship!
The house lights come on fully, as a Celtic drum roll plays over the PA. From beyond the curtain, Murphy Doyle Maher appears, paying no attention to the chorus of boos from the Combat Zone crowd. The drum roll ceases, and Aerosmith’s classic “Dream On” begins to play.
I know nobody knows
Where it comes and where it goes
I know it’s everybody sin
You got to lose to know how to win
MM: Murphy Doyle Maher has made some serious waves here in the EWA since his debut, and it’s obviously gotten the attention of Stacy Vandervort, as he takes on Lou tonight.
VA: I think MDM’s a solid competitor, Malone, and I think Lou’s gonna have a hard time keeping that belt around her waist tonight.
MM: I’ll be honest, Vince, I didn’t expect–
VA: Also that Sarah Wolf chick is hot as fuck. Don’t tell her I said that. I’m pretty sure she could kill me with a finger.
MM: There’s the Vincent Ashe we all know and tolerate.
NR: Introducing first, the challenger, from Brooklyn, NY, weighing in at 215 lbs, accompanied by Sarah Wolf, representing FYA, MURPHY DOYLE MAHER!
Murphy speeds down to the ring, Sarah Wolf in tow. He never takes his eyes off the ring, ignoring the crowd on either side of him. His hands stay at his side. He remains calm and collected as he slides into the ring. Wolf stays on the outside, crossing her arms.
Half my life Is books written pages
Live and learn from fools and from sages
You know it’s true, oh
All these things you do come back to you
VA: That is the look of a man with a great deal of confidence.
MM: And why wouldn’t he have confidence? He’s been on a tear, culminating in what many would consider an upset victory with FYA over William West and Cal Rayner of HATE at This Means War.
VA: Just getting in the ring with Cal Rayner is a feat in and of itself. Actually beating those two… even I was impressed, and let’s be honest, I’m not impressed by much that doesn’t have boobs.
MM: I mean, yeah, that’s an accurate statement.
He stands in the center of the ring, staring down at his feet, and nods in time with the music. He snaps his head up and looks out at the fans that have packed the Combat Zone, making no attempt at theatrics. He only observes, and smiles.
Sing with me, sing for the years
Sing for the laughter, sing for the tears
Sing with me, just for today
Maybe tomorrow, the good lord will take you away
The song ends abruptly, and Murphy takes to his corner as Dorothy’s voice rings through the arena.
OHH, AFTER MIDNIGHT
The crowd in attendance roars as the diamond logo appears on the video screen. The house lights drop, and a single teal spotlight hits the stage.
NR: And his opponent, from Forest Park, AL, weighing in at 121 lbs, she is the EWA Network Champion, the Deathmatch Debutante, LOU!
Lou steps out onto the stage, in her usual getup with the parody Wendy’s logo T-shirt, the EWA Network Championship around her waist. She raises her hands in a diamond, swinging them back down as teal pyro explodes in a line down each side of the stage! She smiles, sticking her tongue out, soaking in the cheers of the crowd, before slowly walking to the ring, swinging her hips as she walks. She looks at the camera in front of her, filming her march to the ring.
Lou: That’s right, the little girl went and grabbed that brass ring. Suck it, haters.
She chuckles as she flips the camera the bird.
MM: And another Warrior who has been showing some serious chops here, Vince.
VA: I’m not completely convinced that Lou is human, Malone. Nobody should be able to take the punishment that she does and still get up, much less someone who’s less than 125 lbs.
MM: It’s true, Lou is the smallest competitor in the EWA right now, but one needn’t look further than her match at Live From Sydney with Ethan Leers to know what she’s capable of.
VA: We caught glimpses of it long before that, Malone. Hell, her first match here, against Long Island Hardcore, she got powerbombed into thumbtacks by CJ Nelson. That she’s alive to tell the tale is testament to her pain tolerance.
MM: And she’s not just alive, Vince, she’s the EWA Network Champion, winning it in another match that most would consider an upset against Maggie McIntyre.
Lou wanders around the ring, stopping short when she sees Sarah Wolf. She wolf-whistles, looking up at Murphy with a smile and a thumbs-up, before locking eyes with her and licking her lips salaciously. Lou winks before sliding into the ring, and Wolf rolls her eyes.
Lou unbuckles the belt, walking to the ropes facing the hard cam, standing on the middle and bottom ropes, and she raises the belt high into the air, leaning over the top rope! The crowd roars as she hops back down, swinging her arms behind her, as more teal pyro shoots from the ring posts! She smiles at Danny Smith, tossing him the belt nonchalantly, before walking back to her corner, staring at Murphy and batting her eyelashes at him.
Smith raises the belt in the air, before handing it to the timekeeper and calling for the bell! Murphy steps out, surprisingly cautious, as Lou starts to circle. Lou goes to lock up, but Murphy sidesteps, connecting with a jab to Lou’s head. Lou staggers back, surprised, and Maher capitalizes, dropping her with a fast clothesline! As Lou drops to the mat, Murphy pulls her up to a seated position, kneeling behind her and driving fists into the top of her head! Danny Smith tries to get him to back off, and he unleashes a crushing headbutt to the back of Lou’s head!
MM: MDM on the offensive right from the beginning!
VA: Seems to me like he wasn’t about to underestimate the little sexpot.
MM: Is that really necessary, Vince?
VA: Only if MDM wants to win the match.
MM: I meant– never mind.
Lou rolls onto her stomach, holding her head, and Murphy goes for a cover!
Lou pops back to her feet, shaking off the pain, but Murphy isn’t about to let her take the offensive, wrapping her in a clinch, and driving knees up into her face! He tries to toss her away, but Lou hooks a leg behind his, keeping her in place, and drops to the mat with a jawbreaker! Murphy staggers, and Lou whips her body around for a spinning wheel kick! Murphy gets knocked into the ropes, and Lou rushes forward, flipping both competitors over the top rope and to the floor!
MM: You have to figure the ringside area is only going to work in MDM’s favor with Bats on the outside.
VA: Only if he’s smart enough to utilize her. Also, I feel like you’re not on friendly enough terms to call Bats that.
MM: But you are?
VA: When have I ever cared about being polite, Malone?
MM: That’s a good point.
Danny Smith starts a ten count, as Lou is the first to her feet by a hair! 1! She drives a roundhouse to the midsection with a yell! 2! She catches Murphy with an elbow to the face, staggering him into the apron! 3! She whips him into the guardrail– reverses! Lou hits with a clang and a howl! 4! Murphy grabs her head, driving it into the guardrail face-first! Lou doesn’t drop, but Murphy does it again! 5! Lou still won’t go down, but blood starts to drip from a cut on her face! Murphy goes for a third, but Lou gets a hand on the guardrail! 6! Lou drives a pair of elbows into Murphy’s abdomen, and when he breaks the hold she springs off the guardrail with a flying roundhouse to his face! 7! Murphy stumbles backward onto the ring steps, and Lou grabs his head, rolling him into the ring! 8! Lou hops onto the apron, slinging herself over the top rope with a senton!
Before Murphy can get to his feet, Lou runs to the ropes on the other side, hitting him with a basement dropkick that catches him in the head! Lou wipes at the trickle of blood coming down her face, licking her fingers with a smile! She pulls Murphy into a seated position, this time cracking him in the skull with a headbutt!
MM: And a bit of a role reversal from the Deathmatch Debutante, Vince.
VA: Her way of saying “anything you can do I can do prettier,” maybe?
Murphy flops back to his back, and Lou goes to the turnbuckle! She gets to the top, looking down at Murphy, before leaping off with a frogsplash! But Murphy pulls his knees up, and Lou cracks against them, flopping over like a fish, thrashing in pain! Murphy gets to his feet, shaking his head, before lazily kicking her in the dome! He straddles her, pulling her head up just enough to slam his own into her, right in the cut! Blood starts to pour faster, and Maher grabs her legs, flipping her into a Boston crab!
MM: The Crusty Bastard!
VA: Hey, that’s not nice.
MM: It’s what he calls the–
VA: Name calling is MY shtick. Got it?
Lou screams, looking for the ropes, but she’s dead-center of the ring! Murphy hollers, Lou’s blood smeared on his forehead, holding her in place as Danny Smith drops down to check on her! She shakes her head no, wincing, blood streaming down her face! She tries to push up on her elbows to walk herself to the ropes, but Murphy cinches it tighter, sitting lower on her back! Lou’s feet are nearly touching her shoulders as she screams even harder!
Smith is still there, but Lou refuses to give in! She tries to wriggle free, but Murphy keeps her locked in! She lays back down, screaming in pain, but screaming “NO” at Smith’s questions! Maher finally flips her back over before rolling her into a cover!
MM: If he’d just kept the move locked, he could’ve had this match won, Vince!
VA: It’s Lou, Malone, that could’ve taken an eternity. And every kickout is more energy she has to use.
MM: That’s a viable strategy, Vince.
VA: Or he got bored because he has no attention span. I think he’s winging it, honestly. That’s what I do every night.
MM: You don’t have Stacy feeding you info in your headset?
VA: I turn the volume down all the way. You think I could say half this shit if I let her feed me commentary?
Lou kicks out, but she’s clearly woozy, and Murphy pulls her to her feet, scooping her into the air with a stalling vertical suplex! Lou’s blood drips to the mat and onto Murphy’s arm before he drops her hard to the mat! She twitches a little, grabbing into the second rope, but Murphy lays her throat across it! Lou doesn’t have the energy to fight, and he lays his leg across her, pulling up on the top rope, choking her! Smith gets in Maher’s face, telling him to stop and starting a five count! Murphy lets off at 4!
Maher starts to talk back to Smith, and as Smith turns his back, Sarah grabs a hold of Lou’s head! She pulls the champ down on the ropes before laying a solid right fist into her face, just in time for Smith to miss the entire interaction! Murphy runs across the ring, landing with a legdrop over the back of Lou’s neck! She bounces off the rope, flopping back in the ring.
VA: See? Very effective. He shoulda distracted Smith when they were on the outside earlier, maybe we’d have a new champ.
Murphy pulls Lou up, and she looks out on her feet! He wraps her up in a bearhug, and that wakes her up a little! Her arms are trapped at her sides, and Murphy squeezes hard! Danny Smith is there, but once more Lou’s refusing to go down so easy! Murphy slams his head into her face again, and again, and again!
MM: Showing Lou a little Irish Affection now!
VA: That’s racist, Malone.
MM: It’s the name of the hold, Vince.
VA: How the heck do you know these things?
MM: This is why I don’t turn my volume down. You should try it.
VA: Not worth it.
Lou’s head starts to loll to the side, and her hands fall limp! Danny Smith is about to check on her when Murphy releases her, dropping her to the mat! He covers!
THREE– kickout at the last second!
Murphy is in shock! He looks up at Smith, holding two fingers! He runs a hand over his head, pulling Lou up! He spins her around, wrapping her head in a sleeper! He tries to lift her up, but with all the blood, her head slips out! She throws a mule kick between his legs, and as he doubles over, she hits the Diamond Cutter!
MM: MDM went for the Right Fuckered, but Lou countered with the Diamond Cutter!
VA: But does she even know where she is right now?
Lou sits up, her eyes looking a little glassy through the crimson, and she looks around the ring for a second, before she finally understands what happened! She pulls herself over and covers!
THR– Sarah Wolf yells for Smith’s attention, pointing to MDM’s foot on the ropes!
VA: Good catch by Bats for noticing that.
MM: Good ca– she put it there, Vince!
VA: I didn’t see that, Malone, are we watching the same match?
Lou curses herself, slamming her hand on the mat! She pulls Murphy to his feet, tossing him into the corner! She follows him in, driving her shoulder into his gut! And again! And again! Murphy drops to his butt, and Lou throws a stomp at him, before stepping out and blowing a kiss to Sarah!
Lou bolts across the ring, straddling Murphy’s face with a bronco buster, going faster and faster until she comes to a screaming twitching halt! She hops off, smiling, and yells to Sarah!
Lou: I get it, sweetie!
She fans herself with her hand, which looks incredibly strange with the crimson mask. She pulls him up, grabbing his face in a ¾ facelock, and she pushes off the turnbuckle!
MM: Trendkill! Cover him, Lou!
VA: Way to be impartial, Malone.
MM: You’re literally never impartial.
VA: I’m color commentary, I’m not supposed to be impartial.
Lou scrambles for a cover!
THREE! No! Danny Smith holds up two fingers as Murphy gets the shoulder up!
Lou sighs, wiping blood out of her eyes, and she pulls Murphy back to his feet! She goes for the Diamond Cutter again, but Maher spins her around before she can hit it! He hooks the arm, ready to hit the Full Irish DDT when the bell rings! Murphy looks at Smith, who pushes the fighters apart!
NR: Ladies and gentlemen, this contest has been declared a time limit draw! Therefore, STILL EWA Network Champion, LOU!
Lou starts to argue with Smith, who is not hearing it! Murphy expresses his displeasure as well, flipping Smith the bird!
MM: It looks like neither competitor is happy with this outcome!
VA: Then why not let them fight?! Don’t be such a killjoy, Smith!
MM: It looks like he might be concerned with that gash on Lou’s head! Either way, this is clearly not over!
Lou looks at Murphy with a smile, pointing at him.
Lou: That was just starting to get fun. Let’s do it again sometime.
Murphy Doyle Maher: You can feckin’ count on it.
Lou puts the belt back on her shoulder, backing out of the ring and blowing a bloody kiss to Sarah as Murphy stares her down from center ring, leaving the ring himself a moment later!
THIS MATCH HAS BEEN DECLARED A TIME LIMIT DRAW (15:00)
STILL YOUR EWA NETWORK CHAMPION: LOU
MM: Ladies and gentlemen, what a night–wait–I’m being told something’s going on backstage? Let’s cut back there now!
(We cut to the back where we see Buck Dresden and Jester Smiles marching through the backstage area. The two men are on a mission as they ignore the people they move past. Jester reaches his hand to Buck’s shoulder and then motions in front of them. The camera pans forward and we see none other than Stacy Vandervort talking to a member of the production staff. She signs off on something just as the two men walk to her.)
Stacy Vandervort: Well, our Combat Champion and…our former Combat Champion. A pleasure.
(Buck holds his hand up to calm Jester down, who is breathing heavily.)
Buck Dresden: Ma’am, we don’t talk much an’ we don’t ask you fer much, but Miss Vandervort, we–
Jester Smiles: What the FUCK was that asshole doing out there?!
Stacy Vandervort: Excuse me?
(Buck pushes Jester back and stands between him and Stacy.)
Buck Dresden: Look, Miss Vandervort, we’ve drawn the ire o’ some less than reputable people of course. That comes with the territory. But, ma’am? That shit’s gotta stop. Before that can happen, though, there’s one thing I…that we…me an’ this man behind me…gotta finish.
Stacy Vandervort: Buck? I know we don’t know one another very well, but I think you’ll find that my time is rather valuable. Would you mind landing your plane and telling me what you want?
(Jester pushes Buck aside.)
Jester Smiles: This company’s seen enough bullshit. HATE fucked up our match, ruined my title defense, and ruined his chance at EARNING that belt. Is that what you want this place’s titles to be known for? Screwball finishes and bullshit DQs? We deserve better, EWA deserves better, and those fucking fans deserve better!
(There is an audible cheer as Stacy pinches the bridge of her nose.)
Stacy Vandervort: So, what? You want to what?
Buck Dresden: Ma’am, I ain’t the Combat Champion unless I’ve earned it. To do that, I need to beat this man. An’ he ain’t no champion if he can’t beat me. We want a rematch.
Stacy Vandervort: Buck Dresden defending the Combat Championship against Jester Smiles in a This Means War rematch?
(She mulls it over.)
Stacy Vandervort: Perfect for me. Battlelines 40, you two will have a rematch.
(Jester leans over Buck, pointing to Stacy.)
Jester Smiles: And if HATE tries to fuck this up, we’re not responsible for what we do to them. They’re already down one dumbass.
(Stacy smiles a small fake smile.)
Stacy Vandervort: Jester, you don’t know this about me, I’m guessing, and I’m going to let you have this one piece of advice.
(She steps forward.)
Stacy Vandervort: Keep your finger the fuck out of my face or HATE will be the least of your problems. You might be angry, you might have things on your mind, but you don’t need to make me your enemy, too. Not in the mood I’m in.
(Jester glares at her as Buck grabs Jester by the collar and pushes him almost completely off screen.)
Buck Dresden: Ma’am.
Stacy Vandervort: Buck.
(He nods to her and drags Jester away off screen, leaving Stacy to sigh a very frustrated sigh as we fade back to our commentators.)
MM: Folks, what a night we’ve had! We’ll see you in two weeks when we head back out west to beautiful Phoenix, Arizona, for Battlelines 40! For Terry Bull, Allison Haines, and Vincent Ashe, I’m Mike Malo–
I’M THE HAND OF GOD
I’M THE DARK MESSIAH
I’M THE VENGEFUL ONE
(The crowd explodes to its feet as the unexpected theme of the former EWA World Heavyweight Champion, Michael Draven, blasts through the Combat Zone, and the lights dim down.)
MM: Is this–
VA: I thought the show was over?
MM: So we should–? Okay? Okay! I’m being told by our producers that – and yes, there he is!
(The camera view shifts to the stage, where indeed, Michael Draven has stepped out, wearing a black “EWA” shirt and jeans. The bruising on his face from his brutal lumberjack match with Indrid Calder is showing signs of having healed in the two weeks since This Means War, and a hint of a smile crosses his face as he marches down toward the ring.)
MM: Apparently Michael Draven is joining us, and Vince, this is an unexpected turn of events, as we haven’t seen him all night!
VA: I could’ve went without ever seeing him again, Malone. I’ve got things to see and people to do, I’m ready to get out of here!
MM: You’re going to go home and go to sleep.
VA: Shut up, Malone.
(Draven climbs the steel steps, ducking under the ropes and entering the ring. He crosses over to the other side, beckoning for a microphone, which Nikki Rogers happily hands to him from the outside. Michael walks back to the center of the ring as the lights come back up and the music stops, and pauses for a moment, soaking in the cheers from the Combat Zone faithful as the fans quickly race back to their seats, before raising the microphone to his lips.)
Michael Draven: You know, throughout my career I’ve had the reputation for not being able to win when it counts. Whether it be title matches, title defenses, or a plethora of matches against Alexander Haven, everywhere I went, I always heard the same thing.
“Michael Draven can’t win when it counts.”
Two weeks ago, in Minneapolis at This Means War…I did exactly what I said I was going to do. I won when it counted.
I defeated Indrid Calder, right here, in the center of the ring.
(The crowd erupts into a frenzy of cheers, and Draven cracks a smile, nodding along.)
MM: And what a match that was, ladies and gentlemen! If you somehow missed it, I highly recommend you catch it on Combat TV, available on demand at any time.
VA: I can’t believe he actually won, Malone. What a dark day for this industry.
Michael Draven: You know, there’s a lot of talk around this time of the year about New Year’s Resolutions, and things of that nature. And so before I went into battle with Indrid Calder on January 12, I took some time to reflect on 2017. It was a wild ride for me, as I’m sure you’re all aware. I started the year alone, the love of my life having left me…
(The crowd instantly breaks out into a chorus of boos, but Draven holds up a hand, chuckling.)
Michael Draven: I brought that on myself. Besides, she came back a few months later..
(And on cue, the Combat Zone fans begin applauding wildly, causing Draven to laugh even more.)
VA: Why the hell’s he in such a good mood, Malone?
MM: He vanquished his demon in Indrid Calder, Vince. Of course he’s in a good mood.
Michael Draven: Along the way, I met another woman…
(A thunderous chorus of boos; while he didn’t mention her by name, the loyal EWA fans know that he’s referring to the Crimson Queen.)
Michael Draven: And unfortunately parted ways with her…
(An audible cheer from the crowd.)
VA: Malone, these people are sickening! How could they cheer something like that? Their split led to those wonderful, glorious pictures of Sahara and Nikki Caldwell!
MM: You have no morals.
Michael Draven: I had my leg snapped in front of all of you people…
(Again with the boos from the Combat Zone audience..)
Michael Draven: …and I came back from that to win the EWA World Heavyweight Championship from Alexander Haven.
(The biggest roar yet from the fans in attendance.)
Michael Draven: So needless to say…2017 was quite the roller coaster ride.
And so when I began preparing to finally meet indrid Calder, one-on-one, for the first time since he broke my leg in April, I reflected to myself on what my goals were. What I wanted to accomplish in 2018. And after a lot of hard thought, careful consideration, and some deep conversations with my wife…
(The crowd interrupts him with a chant here, and Draven smiles, laughing as he realizes what they’re calling out to him…)
Michael Draven: …I realized that there’s nothing left for me here.
(The crowd, lively up to this point, suddenly grows quiet, as an eerie hush falls over the Combat Zone.)
VA: Oh happy day, dear Grace, please let this mean what I think it means…
Michael Draven: Azzy, I’m sorry if I’m stepping on your toes here. I had no idea you were gonna make your announcement earlier.
When my brother and I revived the EWA almost two and a half years ago, I had one goal in mind – drawing Alexander Haven out of whatever rock he was hiding under to fight me. To avenge a wrong from over fifteen years prior. I managed to succeed there, and eventually defeated him…but along the way, I reached peaks and valleys both that I never imagined were possible, both in my career, and as a man.
But simply put, ladies and gentlemen…there’s nothing more for me to accomplish.
Therefore, I’ve come out here tonight…
(Michael swallows hard, clearly emotional at the prospect of this announcement.)
VA: This is the best day ever, Malone!
MM: Shut. Up.
Michael Draven: …to announce my retirement from the EW–
it seems strange that my life should end
in such a terrible place
VA: YES! Just when I thought this couldn’t get any better, Malone!
MM: Oh, for crying out loud–
(Calder does not allow his music to pick up that haunting vibe before entering the arena. He RIPS through the curtains like a man who is burning up on the inside. His eyes are not serene and empty like usual. There is terrible RAGE brewing in The Stranger, and to gaze into his eyes now is akin to staring into two dark pits full of spinning razor teeth.
He wears an immaculate three piece suit, but he immediately pulls the jacket off and drops it. He rolls the sleeves of his charcoal gray dress shirt up past the forearms, and he stares bullet holes into Michael Draven. He brings a microphone up to his lips, and there is nothing composed about Calder’s words.
Each sentence is a dry hiss from the fanged maw of a serpent that has been spurned.)
Indrid Calder: No. You don’t get to do that. You don’t get to just WALK. Do you think what happened at This Mean War changes anything? You really think there’s a SUNSET out there for a man like Michael Draven? There isn’t. There isn’t an exit, and there sure as FUCK is not a happy ending waiting for you. I won’t let you walk. I won’t let you just stroll off into obscurity with that smug little smile plastered across your face. You won the battle like a dedicated grunt, but I am a general in comparison, and I aim to win the war.
(Calder begins to stalk down to the ring, and he’s fuming all the while.)
Indrid Calder: This doesn’t end until all of your joy turns to rot. We aren’t finished until your fantasies of a family are shattered into unrecognizable bits and pieces. You don’t walk away, Michael. You don’t limp away. I won’t even let you CRAWL towards an escape route. We’re connected. We’re bound, Mister Draven. I am the HATEful shadow that hangs heavy over your heart…and tonight…we’re gonna test the limits of that heart.
VA: Look, Malone!
MM: Oh, leave him alone!
(Our camera view pans to the audience, where we see the reigning EWA World Heavyweight Champion, NOTHING, hopping the guardrail to Draven’s right. Draven’s eyes shift back and forth between Calder and NOTHING, but soon, to his left the Titan of HATE himself, Cal Rayner, appears, stepping over the guardrail near the announce table. The three members of HATE surround Draven on all sides, as they slowly climb to the ring apron, stalking Draven like a pack of wolves circling their prey. Draven drops the mic, trying to keep an eye on all three at once, and Indrid Calder runs a slender finger along the top rope as he speaks once more.)
Indrid Calder: I’ll see to it that you leave this business either in a pine box or a straightjacket…I’ll drive you crazy…or I’ll drive you to suicide…but you will NEVER walk away from me of your own free will, Michael.
(At that moment, Draven strikes, knocking Calder off the ring apron with a hard right. He quickly pivots, turning toward the Titan and hitting him with a right as well…but he’s immediately chop-blocked from behind by NOTHING. Draven drops to the mat, clutching at his leg, as the three members of HATE stomp away at him, a look of satisfaction plastered across the face of the Stranger.)
MM: This is ridiculous! Michael Draven was trying to announce his retirement, and that…that sore loser, Indrid Calder, just orchestrated this attack!
VA: Calder didn’t orchestrate this, Malone. HATE is a hive! They work in unison, and you can believe–
MM: IT’S MAGGIE MCINTYRE!! The Banshee is here!!
(Indeed, the crowd roars in approval as the Banshee sprints to the ring, baseball bat in hand, ready to help out her husband. Maggie dives into the ring, ducking underneath a big boot from Rayner, and SLAMS her baseball bat into the Titan’s stomach! Rayner doubles over, and Maggie takes another swing, bringing the baseball bat down across the giant’s back. Maggie quickly turns around – AND IS DROPPED WITH PURE HATE OUT OF NOWHERE!!)
VA: NOTHING just wiped out your Banshee! And look at that man’s face!
(A serene look has come over the Purveyor’s face as he drags Maggie to her feet, and the Stranger reaches into the pocket of his soot-colored slacks…)
MM: Oh my god. What is this? What is this?!
(Calder has produced a pair of HANDCUFFS, and tosses them toward the World Heavyweight Champion, who swipes them out of the air – but before this scene can transpire any further, the crowd roars once again…)
MM: BUCK DRESDEN!! The Bluegrass Bad Ass is here!!
VA: And here comes Jester Smiles! What the hell is this, Malone?!
(Jester and Buck race down the aisle, sliding into the ring, and begin taking the fight to the Stranger and Purveyor, clearly still furious over how their battle with each other ended at This Means War! Dresden takes NOTHING down with a short-hand lariat, and he and Jester grab Calder, whipping him into the ropes. The two men send Calder flying over their heads with a double back-bodydrop…but that’s where their momentum ends, as Cal Rayner CRACKS a chair over both of their backs, sending them crumbling to the mat! Rayner systematically picks up both men, throwing them over the top rope and to the outside of the ring, and the Titan of HATE follows afterward to continue the beating.)
MM: This is madness! Something needs to be done here!
(Meanwhile, NOTHING lifts the handcuffs, and quickly snares Maggie’s left wrist, yanking it behind her back. The Purveyor yells out to Rayner, who moves over to assist with cuffing Maggie to the center of the ring ropes from outside the ring, her hands now cuffed behind her back.)
VA: This is the best thing I’ve ever seen in my life, Malone!
MM: Someone do something!
(Lifting the microphone back to his lips, Calder crouches down next to the woman who was once his “project”, whispering to her. He reaches out a hand and pushes a few locks of midnight hair behind her ear.)
Indrid Calder: Hello, little Judas. Have you missed me? How’s life been ever since you backstabbed the hive and joined up with this SAD lump of incompetence we call Michael Draven? Look at him…look at him with those lovey-dovey eyes…and scream for just a little taste of mercy. Scream until your vocal cords rupture, and KNOW in the deepest part of your heart…that you have made me what I am today. Your actions changed me…scraped what little humanity I had left from the inside…and provided me with the remorselessness that I need to make sure that you and your husband RUE the fucking day that you crossed the House of HATE…
(Maggie screams out at her former lover, but Calder ignores her as he lifts Michael to his feet – and Draven begins to fight back! On the outside, Buck Dresden and Jester Smiles begin to rally, swinging away at Rayner. Draven drives Calder into the corner turnbuckle, driving a shoulder into Calder’s stomach…but NOTHING from behind, DRIVES a chair across Draven’s back! Calder stumbles out, seeing Draven on the ground, and immediately races toward the ropes, springing into the air and DRIVING Draven’s face into the ground with his boot!)
VA: FOR THE HORSEMAN!!!
MM: This is sickening.
(Calder and NOTHING exit the ring, and with the odds mounted against them once again, Jester and Buck attempt to fight their way toward the ring to free Maggie – but to no avail, as the numbers overwhelm them. Rayner FLINGS Jester into the guardrail, laying him out, while NOTHING blasts Dresden with Pure HATE at ringside. With the Combat Champion and top contender laid out at ringside, the members of HATE slip into the ring, surrounding Michael Draven as Maggie screeches at them to stop, to leave her husband alone…)
MM: This is insanity! Are Jester Smiles and Buck Dresden the only competitors in the back with any courage to stand up to these monsters?!
VA: It’s not a matter of courage, Malone! We’re talking about Michael Draven and Maggie McIntyre here! Nobody gives a damn about either of these two worthless pieces of–
(Thunderous cheers – while the fans may hate what that music represents, they understand it also means salvation for Michael and Maggie – erupt from the Combat Zone as SAHARA, now dressed in a t-shirt and form-fitting black jeans, storms out from behind the curtain and charges directly toward the ring!)
MM: The Crimson Queen has arrived!
VA: But why, Malone? You’ve heard the stories as much as the rest of us, they’re kaput! Ancient history!
MM: Oh come on!
(Picking up speed as she reaches ringside, Sahara dives into the ring and grabs hold of Maggie McIntyre’s black bat as the members of HATE quickly exit the squared circle! The hive of HATE gathers together and stands at ringside, staring up at the Crimson Queen as she helps Draven to his feet. Twirling the bat as she crosses over to check on Maggie, the Banshee nods toward her, letting her know she’s okay. Turning her attention toward NOTHING and Calder, the Crimson Queen dares them to step back into the ring to massive cheers!)
MM: Sahara has no love lost for NOTHING after losing her World Title to him!
VA: As she shouldn’t, Malone. They’re lucky that nothing in the world is more important to her than that title or who knows what she’d do!
(Meanwhile, outside the ring, Indrid Calder has picked up the microphone once again.)
Indrid Calder: Defiant to the bitter end. Let’s have a hand for Michael Draven, ladies and gents! It’ll make this next part all the sweeter…
(Calder gazes up at Draven and Sahara, standing together in the center of the ring, and his lips curl into an evil grin.)
Indrid Calder: I told you, Michael…every action you take against me…
…it results in me taking something from you.
MM: What’s he talking about…
(Inside the ring, Sahara TURNS AROUND, AND BLASTS MICHAEL DRAVEN WITH THE TOP END OF THE BAT RIGHT IN THE STOMACH!!!)
MM: What in the HELL?!
VA: YES!!!! YES YES YES YES YES!!! PRAISE GRACE FOR BRINGING US THIS GLORIOUS MOMENT!!!
(Dropping the bat, Sahara grabs a fistful of Michael’s hair and yanks him up to his knees, a snarl on her face, the deafening boos filling the arena. Sahara thrusts Michael’s head between her legs and yanks him up by the back of his pants, turning him around so that she faces the handcuffed Banshee. A fiendish smirk slowly forms on her face as Maggie lunges forward, the tendons in her neck sticking out as she screams helplessly at the Crimson Queen. Sahara quickly locks Draven’s arms behind his back and leaps into the air…)
VA: DOWNFALL! SAHARA JUST HIT THE DOWNFALL ON MICHAEL DRAVEN!! THIS MAY BE THE GREATEST DAY OF MY LIFE, MALONE!!!
(The HATE members pour back into the ring as Sahara stares down at the fallen Draven, a blank expression on her face. As Maggie continues to shriek at Sahara, nearly hysterical from her position handcuffed to the ring ropes, the Stranger moves forward, lifting the Crimson Queen’s chin up with a long finger…
…and her blank expression turns into a sinister grin as she embraces Indrid Calder. Calder lets his hands linger on her hourglass waist, and he rests his chin on her shoulder while staring directly at Draven. He offers The Vengeful One a languid wink…)
MM: OH MY GOD, NO!
VA: OH MY GRACE, YES!!!
(Turning her attention toward Cal Rayner, the newly minted Pillar of HATE motions to her eyes with an index and a middle finger and does the same toward the outside of the ring at the slowly recovering Buck Dresden and Jester Smiles. A smirk of acknowledgement comes to Rayner’s face as he nods and steps over the top rope, showing his immense size as he drops to the outside. Just as Buck gets to his feet Rayner CHARGES and SMASHES into Dresden against the ringpost beneath his weight, collapsing him like a sack of bricks. Instantly turning his attention toward Jester Smiles, Rayner charges and punts him in the stomach HARD before picking him up and yanking his head between his legs.
Pointing up at the hive of HATE, Rayner lets out a roar and lifts Jester with ease and bucklebombs him into the ring apron!)
MM: GOOD GOD DID YOU SEE JESTER’S HEAD WHIPLASH FROM THAT IMPACT!
VA: This was premeditated all along, Malone! Rayner just took orders from the Crimson Queen and cut off any sort of comeback from Draven and his Losers Club!
(Back in the ring Indrid Calder stands before the fallen Michael Draven who pushes himself to his knees, and helplessly grabs hold of one of his legs. Beckoning him up with an arrogant motion of the hands, Michael gets to one knee, still favoring his abdomen as he grabs a fistful of his shirt.)
MM: Look at her standing there, surrounded by the denizens of HATE telling him to stand like a man. Her exact words. I’m going to be sick.
(The crowd is booing throughout the display of showmanship as a smile comes to the Stranger’s face, relishing in their hatred. Lunging forward, Michael Draven suddenly SMASHES Calder into the turnbuckles to a MASSIVE pop but Sahara and NOTHING pounce on him from behind, raining down a barrage of fists, quickly dropping him to the mat when Calder rights himself and joins in with a number of stomps.
As Calder yanks Michael back to his feet, they back him into the ropes as NOTHING produces two more sets of handcuffs, which are used to secure their captive to the top rope, rendering him at their mercy.)
VA: This is amazing TV, Malone. I–
MM: You’re disgusting. This whole display is disgusting. And here we go, she’s gonna talk–
VA: I’ve never wanted to hear this sweet angel’s voice more, Malone.
(Motiong ringside for a mic, Sahara arrogantly turns toward her former lover.)
Sahara: I tried to be happy … I really did. But the fact is, I’m only happy when others are miserable. Especially when I’m the cause of that misery. And my dear, dear Michael–
(Approaching Michael, helplessly handcuffed to the ropes and leaning up against them, blood trickling from his right eye, she looks down at him ever so slightly and reaches out, almost caressing the side of his face–)
Sahara: I’ve never been so happy…
(Pausing a moment, Sahara looks to the outside.)
Sahara: Rayner, make sure those two idiots stay down, and if anyone else decides to play hero — cut em’ off.
(Pivoting on her bootheel, she turns from Michael to Maggie and back again, addressing them both.)
Sahara: You two just don’t get it, do you? None of you do. You never understood me. You never let me be who I am. You wanted me to be pretty little Lauren MacKay-Draven. The same spineless little waif Lauren MacKay-Mirra already was. Whatever mix and match of the names, they’re all the same person. The person I HATED being–
(Her voice trails off and she seems to stare off into space blankly as a feeling of uneasiness settles over the hushed crowd. For a few moments, she silently stares at nothingness before Indrid catches her eye and she nods.)
Sahara: For most my life, I played the part I was trained to play. The obedient housewife, or girlfriend, or arm candy … whatever ya wanna call it. They never said it out loud, but I knew what they were thinking, “Just stand there and look pretty, Lauren, nobody wants to hear your stupid opinion anyway.” But inside–
(Closing her eyes, she clenches her fist and motions to her heart.)
Sahara: Inside I was raging. I knew who I really was, but I knew I could NEVER show it. The world would hate me, and I was brought up to be liked. People don’t wanna hate the popular girl. No. They wanna be me.
(She looks at Michael with a near sadness in her eyes.)
Sahara: I hate when people are happy and I’m not. I hate when people have things and I don’t. I hate smiling when all I wanna do is scream. I hate being polite when all I wanna do is tell someone to fuck off. I … just …
(She pauses before lifting her eyes and looking at Michael Draven.)
(The boos from the crowd increase, but Sahara, undaunted, whips around toward the crowd, speaking over the boos.)
Sahara: And I know so many of you here tonight know exactly what I mean. Boo all you want, you know I’m right!
(She turns back to Michael Draven, who continues to struggle weakly against the cuffs, a gleam in her eye.)
Sahara: I brought you a gift, Michael. A reminder of…the good times. Do you want to see what I brought you here tonight?
(Lifting up that t-shirt she’s wearing, she unbuckles a belt from around her waist and lets it hang from her hand, showing it to both Michael and Maggie.)
Sahara: Recognize this?
It’s the same belt you used to whip Maggie into submission nearly a year ago, as she was handcuffed to the ropes…in a situation much like this one.
The same belt we’d use to … you know. Celebrate?!
(In a mixture of fury and terror, Maggie lunges forward, screaming profanities at Sahara, desperately trying to break free from her handcuffed prison. Sahara merely turns away with a laugh, addressing her former lover.)
Sahara: You got it all, don’t you Michael? You got yer brand new million dollar house.
(She motions to Jester Smiles and Buck Dresden, laid out on the outside of the ring, the monster Cal Rayner looming over them.)
Sahara: You got yer–friends, yer band of merry little superfriends or whatever you morons call yourselves…
(She motions to Maggie McIntyre.)
Sahara: You got Maggie.
(She looks back at Michael.)
Sahara: You got love.
(Approaching him, she bends down and plants a soft kiss on his forehead.)
Sahara: …and now I’m — NO, we’re — going to take it all from you…
(She suddenly knees him in the midsection HARD, doubling him over – yet the handcuffs keep him somewhat upright as she forcefully loops the belt around his neck and cinches it down just tight enough to not choke him–)
Sahara: Those who do not stand with HATE stand against us. And those who stand against HATE will not stand long. The drunken lush and the hick on the outside are proof of that. Take a good look at yer wife, Michael–
(Instead, he looks up at Sahara and shakes his head. She snarls down, cinching the belt a bit tighter.)
Sahara: DO IT. LOOK AT HER!
(As Sahara steps aside, Michael reluctantly looks at Maggie and forces a smile through the pain. Struggling against the ropes, the handcuffs biting into her wrists, Maggie helplessly screams, pleading for “Lauren” to remember who she is. Sahara’s lip curls into a sinister little smile–)
Sahara: You still don’t get it, do you? Just like I told Michael, I now tell the world. There never was a Lauren.
(Tossing the mic, Sahara takes hold of the long end of the belt wrapped around Michael’s neck and grabs hold of the top rope. She stares at him for a moment, prolonging the agony of the moment before she finally leaps over the top, causing Michael to nearly topple over the ropes with her but his weight keeps him on the inside as she dangles from the other end of the belt, her feet scraping the ringside floor as the belt cinches like a noose around his throat.)
MM: JESUS CHRIST!
(His face turns an eerie shade of crimson and purple as veins bulge throughout his face and temples, his air supply instantly cut off, his hands bound and unable to grab the belt–)
VA: She’s taken this too far–
MM: I see even you’re talking some sense!
(As blood vessels collapse, his eyes bulge, Michael Draven passes out never having heard the agonizing cry of despair that emerges from Maggie’s lips. Sahara finally lets go and drops to the outside, her arms outstretched to one of the most massive chorus of boos ever heard on Combat TV.)
MM: Absolutely disgusting. This has to be one of the most tragic displays of cowardice, jealousy and malice I’ve ever seen in my broadcasting career. I hope you enjoy it, Sahara, because there ain’t no coming back from this.
VA: I often talk about how much I love the violence we see here in the EWA, but it’s now escalated to a point well beyond danger, and while I’ll admit there is a piece of me that wants to smile over this, the act of … of hanging someone may be, I don’t even know, Malone.
MM: It’s gone off the rails. I’m outright embarrassed for what the EWA has become tonight.
(After the savage assault from Sahara, NOTHING and Calder unhook Michael from the cuffs and he collapses to the mat. Stepping in front of NOTHING, Indrid kneels down and scrapes Draven up into his arms. The blood of the Vengeful One soaks against Calder’s dress shirt, but he doesn’t shy away. He draws Michael closer, embracing him like a brother and patting his hand against Michael’s chest. Draven’s eyelids are gummed over with plasma, and he coughs weakly.
Maggie helplessly collapses in the final moments of the tense scene, tears streaming down her flushed ivory cheeks. The handcuffs are the only thing holding her up, her wrists cut from the struggle of trying to free herself, and blood visibly streams down her forearms.
Calder unloops the belt from around his neck, the severe bruising around his throat apparent as he casts the symbol of so much violence aside.)
Indrid Calder: Boom, boom, boom. Stay with me a minute longer. How’s your heart, Michael? How much does this hurt? I hope it’s awful. I hope it’s the absolute worst…for you…and for Maggie. And I just want you to know, Michael…in that deep dark place where consciousness is fading…that I am responsible for this.
(He gestures to Sahara, and she offers The Stranger a coquettish smile.)
Indrid Calder: I took this ravishing creature…this underappreciated woman that you took so selfishly for granted…and I gave her a key to the House of HATE. Look at her, Michael. Look upon our newest Pillar. Look at how you’ve failed her…
(The next whisper cuts the deepest, yet somehow echoes throughout the stunned arena.)
Indrid Calder: …and despair.
(Sliding back into the ring, Sahara moves to stand beside her Stranger as she loops an arm around his waist. A wicked grin of pure evil spreads across her face as she stares down at her former lover.)
Indrid Calder: Now, Mister Michael Andrew Draven … now you are retired.
MM: This is…this is sickening.
(We fade as NOTHING and Rayner join them, and this new, twisted version of HATE being the last thing we see as Battlelines 39 fades forever to black.)
EWA Wrestling – a Division of EWA Entertainment
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Joe Lemon -vs- Katsuro Yoshida – Rob B.
Dane Preston -vs- Josh Kaine – Eric M.
V -vs- Serpent Man – Corey G.
Lagrima -vs- Nikki Caldwell – Harlan H.
Erin Gordon -vs- Martin Robertson – Chris F.
Philip Donovan -vs- Sterling – Harlan H.
Indrid Calder/NOTHING -vs- Jester Smiles/Buck Dresden – Eric M./Brandon H.
Murphy Doyle Maher -vs- Lou – Sean B.